On the 49th year commemoration of the Jabidah Massacre

Press Statement | 18 March 2017


The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) is one with the struggling Moro people in commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre. The Jabidah Massacre incident was the slaughter on March 18, 1968 of 28 to 64 young Moro men recruited for an operation to invade Sabah, Operation Merdeka.

This was a manifestation of deep chauvinism and the utter lack of respect for the human rights of the Moro people. This unspeakable tragedy sparked the Bangsamoro’s armed resistance against national oppression and the struggle for their genuine right to self-determination.

It has been nearly five decades, and even if the Duterte regime promised that it will do what it can to attain ‘peace’ in Mindanao, militarization in numerous Moro communities, especially in Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, continue unabated and are escalating. Under the pretext of the ‘war against terrorism’, the Moro masses are in fact the real victims of indiscriminate bombings and attacks in these Moro areas.

Similar to acts of atrocity committed by previous regimes, these resulted in the forced evacuation of thousands of Moro masses. The AFP, for their part, is quick to create a hype on media with regard to members of the Abu Sayyaf or other such terrorist groups whom they have killed, but are, in truth, just ordinary and innocent Moro masses. Even more distressing, these have also resulted in the erosion of livelihood of the Moro people, shoving them further onto the muck of impoverishment. Thus, even as 49 years have passed, the brutality felt by the victims of the Jabidah massacre lives on with the Moro people.

The Bangsamoro continues to be pitted against each other, and suffer in the throes of division. And the gap between Muslims and Christians, and that of the Moro and the majority peoples, widens even further, because of the unresolved problem of the Abu Sayyaf, which was created and coddled by the AFP. The reactionary government continues to suppress the legitimate armed resistance of the Moro people, such as the ones advanced by the MILF, BIFF, MNLF-Misuari and other such groups. The ‘peace talks’ have been used to deceive the Bangsamoro, leading them astray from the path of armed struggle and pushing them to capitulation.

However, the history of the Bangsamoro is rife with the determined struggle against foreign domination, injustice, oppression and the plunder of their ancestral lands. Since Sultan Kudarat’s fight against the Spanish colonizers, to Datu Ali’s rise against US imperialism, until the current struggle against the puppet and reactionary state, the struggle of the Bangsamoro continues to blaze.

In 1969, only a year after the Jabidah massacre, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), under the leadership of Chairman Nur Misuari and Vice Chairman Sheik Hashim Salamat, was founded. Despite Martial Law, it launched successful operations against the US-Marcos regime’s military forces.

Due to the armed resistance begun by the MNLF, Marcos was then forced to open up to the first ever peace negotiations with the Bangsamoro. In 1976, the US-Marcos regime and the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement. Marcos however betrayed the MNLF after he junked the agreement because it ran opposed to the provisions of the Philippine constitution.

After the MNLF, then came the MILF, and then the BIFF – all seeking to resolve the Moro problem through armed resistance and win for the Moro people their genuine right to self-determination.

Even with the successive regime changes that followed after Marcos, it is undeniable that oppression and exploitation worsened for the Moro people. After Marcos was ousted from power, the Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino III regimes all boasted to work towards granting autonomy to the Bangsamoro. But, in spite of consecutive peace (1996 Final Peace Agreement, MOA-AD, CAB, etc.) and ceasefire (1997 GRP-MILF Ceasefire Agreement) agreements, the brutal militarization of Moro areas never ceased. And, until present, with the full recognition of the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination disregarded, genuine autonomy remains elusive.

Photo from ArkibongBayan.org

In another context, through the imposition of pro-imperialist policies under Duterte, the Moro people are further pushed to destitution. The Bangsamoro do not benefit at all from the thousands of hectares of arable land forcibly apportioned to imperialist mining concessions (e.g. P495-million nickel-mining project by Pax Libera Mining, Inc. in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi) and plantations for banana, oil palm, jathropa, rubber and pineapple (e.g. US-company UNIFRUITTI that owns 5,000 hectares of banana plantation in the towns of Buldon, Matanog, Talayan, Abubakar and Barira, all in the Maguindanao province). The ones that fully exploit Bangsamoro lands are foreign monopoly capitalists and their local cohorts, such as Danding Cojuangco, and by the Moro ruling classes, such as the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans.

The NDFP-Mindanao therefore calls upon the Moro people to remain steadfast in their unity and demand that the Duterte government fulfil its promise to genuinely better the lives of the Bangsamoro.

Despite of the continuing AFP and paramilitary attacks, the Bangsamoro must steel its resolve to further strengthen its armed resistance for its genuine right to self-determination and against the fascist and chauvinist reactionary state. Remember that only through armed revolution the basic problems of the Moro people are resolved.

The NDFP-Mindanao, together with its allied organization, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO), is one with you in your continuing struggle for just and lasting peace and justice.#

Ka Joaquin Jacinto