I read with interest Jun Macarambon’s comments on my view about the war in Mindanao. He quoted the following from Vic Hurley, an American who stayed in Mindanao for seven years and published “Swish of the Kris” in 1936:
“The Malays, Aztecs and the Incas fell before the Toledo of steel of the Spaniards, and their language and institution perished with them. Not so with the Moros. Sturdy and intact, their religion still flourishes. The conquistadores came, fought vainly and retired. The Moros remain.”
While it is a fact that the Moros of Mindanao succeeded in repulsing attempts to subjugate them first by the Spaniards and then by the Americans, I don’t think comparing their fate with those of the Malays, Aztecs and Incas will work. The internal circumstances in Latin America, for example, were different from the one prevailing in Mindanao and the temperament and capability of the invaders were different.
I agree that deploying the full force of the Armed Forces to Mindanao does not guarantee a victory for the government, not until the root causes of the rebellion are addressed. But the main problem of the majority of the Moros is not political (lack of freedom or independence) but economic. Independence for the Moros does not guarantee economic emancipation considering the feudal structure in place in Moro society.
One just have to look at the organizational setup of the separatist groups, from the older Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front down to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf. The hierarchical structure prevents the full blossoming not only of political but also economic freedoms.
Nur Misuari, the respected leader of the MNLF and the one more exposed to progressive thought, was given a chance to lead the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and to realize some of his proposed programs but he bungled the job. The ARMM was not the best-led government unit during Misuari’s watch and corruption and profligacy seeped through his governance.
The Moro struggle needs progressive leaders, those who are not only honest, sincere and determined but who are also willing to transcend the feudal setup prevailing in Moro society—those who understand that Moro independence won’t matter without the economic emancipation of the Moro people.
–-Candido O. Wenceslao, August 14, 2007