PEOPLE: The Moro People Of The Philippines

PEOPLE: The Moro People Of The Philippines

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The Moro people comprise the 13 Islamized ethnolinguistic groups of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. Along with the group known as Lumad in Mindanao, the Moros are an indigenous population that had been living on the islands long before the coming of Spanish colonialism.

Image result for moropeople picMoro people of Philippine Island Image credit: Pinterest

Racially and culturally, the Moro people share a common origin with the majority of Filipinos. Linguistically, they belong to the Malayo-Polynesian group of languages.

Origin of the word

Etymologically, the word Moro was derived from the term “Moor,” itself originating from “Mauru,” a Latin word that referred to the inhabitants of the ancient Roman province of Mauritania in northwest Africa, which today comprises the modern states of Algeria, Mauritania and the Kingdom of Morocco.

With the rise of Islam, Mauritania became a Muslim province under the Umayyad Caliphate. Before long, Muslim armies conquered and then ruled much of the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to 1492, a total of 781 years.

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The term Moro was a Spanish word used to refer to the Iberian Moors, the Muslims of Spain. When they arrived in the Philippines, they used the same word to refer to the Muslim natives of the islands, surprised and angered by a high Muslim presence after having defeated and expelled them from Spain. The term is still used for the Muslims of the Philippines today.

Moros are also commonly known as Filipino Muslims, by outside sources. However, most Moros do not refer to themselves Filipinos since the term originated from King Philip II of Spain who expelled Islam from Spain and is the namesake of Philippine islands. Most of the Muslims that do refer to themselves as Filipinos are converts to Islam living in Luzon, Visayas and Quiapo district or ex-patriats from Muslim countries.

Encyclopedia Britannica

In colonial Philippines, the Spanish rulers used the word “Moro” to refer to all inhabitants of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, believing that they all belonged to the Islamic faith.

Moroany of several Muslim peoples of MindanaoPalawan, the Sulu Archipelago, and other southern islands of the PhilippinesConstituting about 5 percent of the Philippine population, they can be classified linguistically into 10 subgroups: the Maguindanao of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranao of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces; the Tausug, mostly of Jolo Island; the Samal, mostly in the Sulu Archipelago; the Bajau, mostly in the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakan of Zamboanga del Sur province; the Ilanon of southern Mindanao; the Sangir of southern Mindanao; the Melabugnan of southern Palawan; and the Jama Mapun of the Cagayan Islands.

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Derogatory connotations

Spanish efforts to subjugate the Moro homeland resulted in the Spanish-Moro wars that began in 1565 and lasted for over 300 years. To gain the sympathy and support of Christianized native Filipinos, the Spaniards infused the term “Moro” with derogatory connotations, such as “pirates,” “traitors,” “juramentado,” “enslavers,” “cruel” and “uncivilized.”

Thus, until the emergence of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1969, the people in Moroland refused to be called Moros. The MNLF, however, transformed the term into a byword of nationality and identity in Moroland.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Because of their Islamic faith (introduced from Borneo and Malaya in the 14th century), the Moro have remained outside the mainstream of Philippine life and have been the object of popular prejudice and national neglect. Moro conflict with ruling powers has a centuries-long history: from the 16th to the 19th century they resisted Roman Catholic Spanish colonialists, who tried to extirpate their “heresy”; in the first decade of the 20th century they battled against U.S. occupation troops in a futile hope of establishing a separate sovereignty; and, finally, they spawned insurgencies against the independent Philippine government, especially from the late 1960s on.

Historically, Muslim Filipinos have never constituted a collective entity. The various groups or tribes have often been fiercely independent, have clashed with one another at times, and have independently grafted Islamic tenets and practices onto their distinct local cultures. Nevertheless, internal differences have been outweighed by the common grievances that the Moro have experienced vis-à-vis non-Muslims in the Philippines. After World War II, their traditional grievances as religious and economic outcasts were exacerbated by the great migration of northern Christian Filipinos into the southern provinces, where they bought up land and tried, Moros alleged, to Christianize the schools and other institutions. In 1971 the Manila Times estimated that 800,000 Muslims were refugees turned out of their lands by Christians.

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Royal Titles

The sultanate system is still part of the culture of Mindanao’s Muslims. Unlike the other Filipinos, who commonly adopted Spanish royal titles after converting to Christianity, the Muslims of Mindanao retained those passed on by Malay missionaries which themselves were of Indian influence.

The title sultan is more often used to refer to the Muslim nobility of the Philippines, but many of them actually retained their pre-Islamic titles such as rajah and maharaja which were honorific Hindu and Indian titles.

The term maharaja originated from the Srivijayan and Majapahit era, and remained in use by the Sultanate of Sulu which referred to rulers of provinces.

The term datu was an exclusively native title used by nobilities and chiefs of all sorts, either Muslim or non-Muslim, it is similar to the term datuk used by ethnic Malay civilizations (not to be mistaken for Malay Race).

Ancestry and Pre-Islamic History

The Moro people are Austronesian groups, and are related to Filipinos and Malays alike who are descended from southern tribes in China, mostly from Taiwan and Madagascar in Africa. Many of the Moro groups are descended from MalayArab and Indian migrants, especially for the inland groups such as the Maguindanaoans of Maguindanao and the Maranaoans of the Lanao region. These people were mostly Animistic and Pagan tribes. Buddhism and Hinduism arrived through Malay traders and missionaries who introduced the royal titles (of Indian origin of course) rajah, maharaja and the native term datu which came to be a common title among the Malay Race.

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Islam in Moroland

Historians date the arrival of Islam on the islands to the latter part of the 13th century. Tuan Masha’ika set foot on the Sulu archipelago in 1280, where he got married and established the first Muslim community.

Tuan Masha’ika was later followed by Karim-ul-Makhdum, a religious missionary, around the middle of the 14th century. However, it was the coming of Rajah Baginda in the early 15th century that the political aspect of Islam was introduced in Sulu. In fact, it was his son-in-law, Abu Bakar, who established the Sulu Sultanate whose capital was Sulu.

Introduction of Islam 

The Sulu Archipelago was the sight of heavy Islamic activity. In 1380 A.D., an Arab scholar and a judge by the name of Karim ul’ Makdhum (spelled as Karimul Makhdum in Pilipino) from Mecca arrived in the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao through Borneo. Ul’ Makdhum’s arrival marked a dawn of Islam in the Philippines. Makdhum was liked and loved all around in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, he stayed in the southern Philippines and died there of old age. A decade later, native Muslims from the neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in the Philippines to strengthen the religion’s hold of the islands. A Minangkabu prince from Sumatra by the name of Rajah Baguinda, arrived with his followers to the islands and preached Islam. In 1500, a Malay-Arab missionary from Johor by the name of Sharif Kabungsuwan (Jawi: شريف كبوڠسووان) arrived in Mindanao. Kabungsuwan’s arrival further strengthened Islam in Mindanao and ensured its hold of Mindanao. Islam arrived in the Manila Bay area when Bolkiah, Brunei’s sultan occupied kingdoms located there – Maynila and Tondo and turned them into vassal states for the Brunei sultanate. Salila, Maynila’s ruler converted to Islam and adopted the Arabic name Sulaiman.

Image result for karim ul makhdum pictureBrief history of spread of Islam Source: SlideShare 


Rise of Muslim States of the Philippines

The rajahs and datus of western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago adopted Indo-Islamic traditions, and took the title sultan, traditional Muslim rulers who governed states known as sultanates. Malay and Arabic were the two official major langauges adopted by these various sultanates and Muslim rajahnates.

Sultanate of Sulu

Related imageImage credit: Wikipedia

In the Sulu Archipelago, another Arab and an acclaimed-descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad by the name of Sayyid Abu Bakr Abirin established the Sultanate of Sulu (Jawi: سلطنة سولو دار الإسلام, Arabic: سلطنة سولو) in 1457 after his fascination with the natives.[16] Abirin was actually born in the Malacca sultanate, not in Arabia. He was coronated under the name Sharif ul-Hāshim, because of his acclaimed descent from the Arabian tribe Banu Hashim. The Sultanate of Sulu was a Tausūg state that covered the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan (according to some sources) and the northern part of Borneo in Malaysia and emerged to be a major power in Maritime Southeast Asia. Provincial princes of this sultanate retained the pre-Islamic title maharaja. Jolo and for some time, Palawan was established as the capital of the Sulu Sultanate.

Sultanate of Maguindanao

The Sultanate of Maguindanao started out as a Malay Muslim state, but the Maguindanaoans later emerged into a seperate ethnic group. Kabungsuwan established the Sultanate of Maguindanao (1500-1898 A.D.) with Cotabato City becoming the capital. Sharif Kabungsuwan later influenced the formation of sultanate confederations in Lanao, which were largely decentralized. Maguindanao was the largest Muslim state in Mindanao, spanning the entire southern half of Mindanao including the Zamboanga Peninsula ans parts of the northern Maluku Islands in Indonesia.

Related image Seal of Maguindanaoan sultan Datu Uto


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Sharif Kabungsuan

Islam would be introduced to the rest of Mindanao with the coming of Sharif Awliya. Both oral and genealogical evidence reveal that he arrived on mainland Mindanao at around 1460. However, it was Sharif Kabungsuan who was responsible for the establishment of the first Islamic community, especially in the Cotabato region.

In fact, all those who claim to be heirs of the Sultanate of Maguindanao would always have a tarsila/salsilah (genealogy) showing that they are descendants of Sharif Kabungsuan.

Some authors claim that the Maranaos were Islamized via the Maguindanaons and Iranuns of the Illana Bay area. However, some oral traditions of the Maranaos also tell us that a certain Sharif Alawi was responsible for the spread of Islam to Lanao and Bukidnon via the northern coast of Mindanao.

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Confederation of Lanao Sultanates

Like Maguindanao, the Lanao natives are of Malay origin and their sultanates were formed during the Spanish colonial era. The first Lanao sultan was crowned in 1640, a Maranaoan chief by the name of Balindong Bzar. The Lanao sultanates were uniquely decentralized and was divided into Four Principalities of Lanao, composed of sixteen royal houses. Each principality was referred to as a Pangampong, and governed by an individual with the title His Royal Highness, an actual sultan with civil powers was distinguished from a figure-head royal sultan. The capital of the Lanao Sultanates was Marawi City, which was then called Dansalan.

Kingdom of Maynila/Selurong

Manila (also known as Maynila in Tagalog and Selurong or Seludong in Malay) became a Muslim state through its acquiring as a vassal state by Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei.

Image result for rajah sulaiman pic Image credit: Fahmi Amhar



After Rajah Sulayman converted to Islam, he adopted Islamic politics into the kingdom although he never officially adopted the title “sultan” and his domain remained a rajahnate and not a sultanate. He was also a descendant of the Bruneian royal family of Bolkiah. The Islamic Tagalog kingdom known as the Rajahnate of Maynila was carved out of the once Buddhist-Hindu rajahnate of the same name that splintered from the Namayan kingdom; it covered the araas of Manila Bay, the Pasig Rivera area and parts of what is today Pampanga in the Philippines.

Image result for Bolkiah kingdom pic Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunie, Darusalam, Violet 1974 Source: eBid

Bolkiah renamed Manila to Selurong or Seludong. Its neighbor was the Kingdom of Tondo, ruled by his brother Lakan Dula. Manila today is the capital of the Republic of the Philippines.

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One command, one God

Eventually, it is the Islamic faith that would distinguish the Moros from the other natives of the Philippine archipelago. Under the sultanates, the Moros were unified under one leadership, one command and one God. Islam served not only as a unifying thread for their political organization but also as the ideological foundation to effectively resist foreign intrusions.

Image result for islam in mindanao picImage credit: Ateneo de Davao University

The non-Islamic populations, on the other hand, were scattered in barangays that were independent from each other, thus offering only sporadic and disunited resistance against the Spanish invaders. Because of this, they would be easily conquered by the Spanish colonizers.

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Moro Against Spanish Conquest

In 1521, the Portuguese conquistador Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Visayan island of Mactan where he met its datu, Lapu-Lapu or Ali Pulako.

Image result for lapu lapu picLapu-lapu Image credit: Y101fm

Magellan had befriended the other datus and rajahs of Visayas, Humabon ordered Lapu-Lapu to submit to Spain’s rule and convert to Roman Catholicism but Lapu-Lapu refused and killed Magellan in battle, although no record ever indicates Lapu-Lapu’s religion despite being an acclaimed Muslim by Islamic souces it is much more likely that Lapu-Lapu was an Animist or a Hindu. Spain returned by sending conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi to conquer Luzon and Visayas, after converting their native rulers to Roman Catholicism and attacking those that refused. The Muslim natives of the Philippines actively resisted Spanish attempts to convert them to Roman Catholicism declaring a jihador holy war against Spanish conquest.

Sulayman Revolt in Luzon

Image result for sulayman revolt in Luzon picSulayman Revolt

In Luzon, Lakan Dula, Tondo’s ruler submitted to Spain’s rule and converted to Roman Catholicism and baptized as Don Carlos Lakandula. Rajah Sulayman refused to submit to Spain’s rule or convert to Roman Catholicism, but he did allow them access into Luzon for a period of time. Sulayman eventually decided to rebel against Spain’s rule, and along with Lakan Dula, waged a war against them after Spanish atrocities. Juan de Salcedo, Legazpi’s grandson however signed a treaty with both Rajah Sulayman and Lakan Dula which gave the colonists occupation of the Muslim settlements south of the Pasig River. Another individual, allegedly a Kapampangan chief from Macabebe by the identified name of Tarik Sulaymen continued the revolt and waged a battle against Spanish forces in the Bangkusay Channel in Tondo, but because Lakan Dula had already given Spain strategic access to Luzon, Sulayman was defeated in the Battle of Bangkusay due to Spain being one step ahead. Tarik Sulayman’s failure had initially ended Muslim resistance against Spain in Luzon, and without leaders, the other Muslim tribes of Luzon were either easily defeated in battle or converted to Roman Catholicism although Spain would deal with latter revolts from the Christianized natives, these were put down quickly. There is some contrevoursy as to whether Tarik Sulayman of Macabebe is the same person as Rajah Sulayman of Manila, and there is a confusion between both because of the similarity of names, they both bear the name Sulayman.

Spanish-Moro Conflict in Mindanao

Image result for kriss sword used by moros against spaniards picThe kriss sword was used by the sultans to fight the Spanish conquest Image credit:Wikiwand 

The Muslims of the southern Philippines also resisted Spanish conquest and had a strategic advantage over Spain since Spain was not too familiar with Mindanao and their chiefs were not willing to give Spain access and showed instant resistance. Muhammad Dipaduan Kudarat, the fifth Sultan of Maguindanao halted Spanish missionaries into his territory and attacked Spanish garrisons in Mindanao. The sultans of Sulu also joined in the Moro resistance against Spain. The Moros conducted vicious attacks against Spanish and Filipino Christian settlements, as far north as Visayas and Manila in Luzon, a former Islamic kingdom (Bruniean sattelite state) that Spain quickly converted to Roman Catholicism after conquering. The Moro raids would persist, which for some time, retained the presence of Islam in Manila. Brutal fighting between the Spanish conquistadors and the armies of Mindanao’s sultans would persist for three centuries and it took Spain extensive use of its military resrouces to complete its conquest of Mindanao. The Chinese provided military aid to Sulu’s armies, and Chinese pirates and rebels also aided the Moro armies of Mindanao against Spain. The success of the Moro armies would end when Spain destroyed Chinese aid to Sulu, however their holy war against Spain would continue. There were some instances when Mindanao’s sultans allowed Christian missionaries into Mindanao, such as Azim ud-Din I of Sulu or Muhammad Alimuddin. His brother, Bantilan exiled him to Manila and expelled Christian and Jesuit missionaries from the sultanate. While Spain did achieve strategic success against the Moros, they had to accept the fact that the Moros would never give up their Islamic faith and would rather die to the last man rather than convert to Roman Catholicism as had Rajah Sulayman and Tarik Sulayman. Spain was forced to accept the Muslim presence in the newly acquired territory they would call the Philippine Islands. However despite the Spanish failure to convert the Moros to Roman Catholicism, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago had to deal with the constant presence of Jesuit missionaries who were actually very successful in converting entire families and clans to Roman Catholicism which once more, threatened the presence of Islam in the southern Philippines.

War Against American and Japanese Conquest

Image result for cornelius c.smith in 1910 with moro chieftains pic Cornelius C. Smith (far right), a recipient of the Medal of Honor, as commander of the Philippine Constabulary with Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing and Moro chieftains in 1910 Image credit: Wikiwand

In 1898, the Americans defeated the Spanish armies in the Spanish-American War of the same year, acquiring the Philippine Islands. The Americans battled Filipino forces led by Emilio Aguinaldo in Luzon and defeated them. However, the Moro people waged an independant war against the Americans that had no correlation with the armed Filipino revolution against the American forces. In 1903, a band of Maranaoans attacked American troops in Lake Lanao. The Moros fought with the same weapons they had with Spain’s armies, swords and daggers mostly which contributed their decisive loss in the Battle of Bud Dajo in Jolo Island. Because of the high death of woman and children, criticisms were met against Leonard Wood, the American general who led military campaigns in Mindanao. Leonard Wood, the U.S. general responsible for campaigns in Mindanao recieved negative criticisms from the American public and Leonard Wood would control the Moro Province which became designated as Moroland. The civil powers of Mindanao’s sultans declined rapidly and were given little pay. However through, Wood allowed the Moros to establish their own laws, seperate from Philippine law. Moro rulers, datus and sultans were given the roles of governers, town mayors and military leaders. In 1941, the Japanese Empire invaded the American-held Philippine Archipelago. The American soldiers stationed in the Philippines were helpless, but dedicated enough to hold the Japanese for appoximately four years until they finally surrendered Bataan which force the Filipinos to rely on insugency groups known as guerillias, these militants carried out hit-and-run style of warfare agianst Japanese bases. This type lf warfare was especially predominant with the Moros of Mindanao, who resisted Japanese rule.

The Republic of Zamboanga

In 1899, the Zamboanga Peninsula was established after the native Zamboangueños rebelled against the Spanish government. This republic was highly Latin-influenced, with Chavacano and Spanish as its official languages. Although Zamboanga was ruled by Christian political families, many Moros remained in the Zamboanga Peninsula where they absorbed the Latin influence. During the American colonial era, Zamboanga became the Moro capital.

Within the Republic of the Philippines 

After the the Republic of the Philippines formed in 1946, after being freed from Japanese rule by the Americans in 1945, the Moros along with their Lumad counterparts (non-Muslim natives in Mindanao remained seperated from mainstream Filipino society and were discriminated, because of the tendancy of Philippine politicians to favor promoting Roman Catholicism as the state religion, although the Philippines had no state religion. Their culture was ignored. The Moros of the southern Philippines formed several independance movements from the Republic.




During the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine government also promoted the mass migration of Catholics (mostly Tagalog, Cebauano and Ilocano people) to the impoverished parts of Mindanao, often settling in Muslim territory and eventually came to out populate the native Muslims of Mindanao. Key cities that were capitals of former sultanates such as Zamboanga City and Davao City became predominantly Christian cities with remaining Muslim minorities as had Manila.

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Spanish aggressors

The Moro people’s struggle for self-determination began  long before President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and launched military operations against the MNLF-led Moro revolutionary forces.

Image credit:

The struggle started in 1565, when the Spanish colonial aggressors began to penetrate Moroland and made their presence felt. After Christianizing and colonizing the natives of the northern part of the Philippines, the Spaniards proceeded to the Moro homeland to suppress Islam and neutralize the economic and political activities of the Moro sultanates.

The Spanish rulers effectively utilized the classical “divide and rule” strategy and made use of the Christianized natives (called Indios) in their military expeditions against the Moro people. The latter, on the strength of their centralized sultanates, the Maranao Pengampong, their Islamic tenets and advanced economies, fought the Spaniards defensively and offensively for 330 years.

Longest anticolonial war

Some historians consider the Spanish-Moro War as one of the longest anticolonial war in the world. It also resulted in deeply rooted feelings of resentment and ill will between the “Filipinos” and the Moro people.

Image result for moro people of philippines picImage credit:Philippine Headline News Online

The success of Spanish colonization in the North also heightened the degree of estrangement and animosity that divided the Moro people and the majority Filipinos.

While the Moros could be deemed to have emerged victorious in the sense that they succeeded in preserving their freedom, faith and homeland, they were, however, severely battered. The final blow was to be delivered by US imperialism.

Struggle against US

MOROLAND: The History of Uncle Sam and the Moros 1899 - 1920 by Robert A. Fulton. $10.76. 542 pages. Publisher: Tumalo Creek Press; 2 edition (October 1, 2007). Author: Robert A. Fulton Image credit:

The Moro people’s efforts at reconstruction and recovery from the ravages of Spanish aggression were interrupted with the coming of American colonizers in 1898.

Compared with their Spanish predecessors, the Americans were more determined and more advanced—politically, technologically, economically and militarily.

Faced with this display of superior might and fresh vitality, the weary, flagging and worn out resistance of the Moro people gave way, but only after a decade of bloody fighting and heroic struggles.

Homestead, agri investments

The US colonial government systematized and regulated the whole process of land ownership, land registration, cadastral survey, homesteading and agricultural investments. Through class legislation and discriminatory processes, the ancestral lands and economic resources of the Moros and Lumad would gradually drift into the hands of Christian Filipino settlers and large US corporations.

More importantly, the Moros (and Lumad) would also lose their right to govern themselves according to their own systems as their territories were systematically incorporated into the bureaucracy of the Philippine colony.

Their once sovereign states in the form of the sultanates were reduced into mere provinces of the colonial government and later incorporated into the Philippine Republic.

It must be noted that during American imperial rule, various Moro leaders voiced out their desire for their homeland to be granted independence.

In 1934 and 1935 for instance, in the midst of Filipino-American negotiations for independence, Maranao leaders sent various petitions to Filipino and American authorities for a separate independence grant. As expected, these petitions were ignored.

Philippine ‘independence’

The granting of Philippine “independence” in 1946 did not improve the situation of the Moros. Rather, it worsened their economic, political and social conditions. The US imperialists, while relinquishing formal political rule to Christian Filipino (and some Moro elite) protégés, ensured that they remain the wielders of economic power.

Image result for philippine independence 1946 and moro people picThe Moro people did not like the idea of becoming a Spanish colony nor being part of the Philippines. Image credit: Haiku Deck

Thus, the neocolonial government continued to protect and strengthen foreign economic interests. For instance, multinational corporations retained control and monopoly of the Bangsamoro economy particularly in the agri-export industries of pineapple, banana and rubber.

Migration program

In addition, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippine government promoted and intensified the migration program to Mindanao. This policy was encouraged in order to quell agrarian unrest in Luzon and the Visayas. During the Magsaysay administration, several resettlement programs like Narra, Lasedeco and Edcor gave way to massive migration from the northern and central parts of the Philippines to Moroland.


The Moro people’s resentment over the loss of their sovereignty, ancestral lands and economic resources was expressed occasionally from 1914 to 1940 in minor moves. However, these would be transformed into major moves and systematic opposition beginning in the 1960s.

For instance, Rep. Ombra Amilbangsa in 1961 filed a bill in the House of Representatives seeking the political independence of Sulu.

Image result for Rep. Ombra Amilbangsa pic Image credit: Filipino Historian

After the 1968 Jabidah massacre, Datu Udtog Matalam, former governor of the undivided Cotabato province, would organize the Muslim Independence Movement.

Image result for datu udtog matalam pic  Image credit: Provincial Planning & Development Office – Province of Cotabato

Image result for datu udtog matalam pic Image credit: SlideShare


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Moro Independence Movements

Image result for members of the MNLF picM.N.L.F Nur Misuari and MNLF members Image credit: Philippines 

The Moros were poignant enough to attain their independance from the Philippines, that they formed militant groups that fought against the Filipino armed forces. In 1973, Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law which led to the creation of the Moro National Liberation Front by freedom fighter Nur Misuari who was prominent in Mindanao. The government did offer autonomy and self-determination to the Moro people, but they rejected it and created the large militant force that carried out insurgencies against Filipino Christians and Filipino soldiers. They also attacked government facilities.

Related image President Cory Aquino and MNLF Founder Nur Misuari Image credit:


In 1986, Marcos’ succeeding president Corazon Aquino and Nur Misauri signed a cease-fire, which was brokered by Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi.

Related imageImage credit:


In 1977, a seperate militia force known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Arabic: جماعة أبو سياف) or the MILF, in 1984,  was created by Hashim Salamat and fifty seven officers from the MLNF after Misuari expelled Salamat from the MNLF.


In 1987, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or the ARMM was created, which today consists of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi which contained the predominantly Muslim regions of Mindanao, although large pockets of Muslims lived outside of the region. Supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front called this region Bangsamoro, the word bangsa is a Malay word for “nation” and the Spanish word for a Filipino Muslim known as the moro. The areas and territories claimed by supporters of the Bangsamoro state far-encompass that provinces included the ARMM and include predominantly Christian regions such as Palawan and Davao. In 1991, the Abu-Sayyaf (Arabic: جماعة أبو سياف) </span>group was formed and has far-more committed more acts of terror among innocent people and has have formed alliances and connections with Indonesian militant groups such as the Laskar Jihad.

Image result for flag of bangsamoro republic picFlag of Bangsamoro Republic Image credit: Wikipedia 

Sabah and Borneo Issue

Image result for malaysian police en route to find and fight Moro rebels picMalaysian police en route to find and fight Moro rebels  Image credit: Ethnipedia Wiki – Fandom

On a historical level, there is another independance and armed movement that deals with the acclaimed descendants of the Sulu Sultanate, there are multiple claimants as to who belongs to the throne of Sulu, and it involves the Malaysian state of Sabah. Claimants of the Sulu Sultanate believe Sabah to be their rightful territory, but success could not be achieved since multiple militants have different goals. Supporters of the Bangsamoro support the creation of an independant state that comprises of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago and Palawan while supporters of the Sulu Sultanate also involve Malaysian claimants who are dedicated to establishing an independant Tausūg state, from both the Philippines and Malaysia and other militants are dedicated to annexing Sabah as a Philippine province. Unlike the other Moro militants, those trying to reclaim and revive the Sulu Sultanate refer to themselves as the Royal Sulu army.

Encyclopedia Britannica

The main contemporary resistance group espousing Moro separatism—the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), founded in 1968—instituted a terrorist insurgency that left 50,000 dead, drew in about half of the Philippine armed forces, and drove some 20,000 Muslim refugees to SabahEast Malaysia, before a cease-fire was arranged in late 1976. In 1976–77 the Ferdinand Marcosadministration in Manila offered regional autonomy to the various Moro groups, but in 1977 the MNLF president, Nur Misuari, renewed a demand for total independence for the southern Philippines and gained diplomatic and military support first from Libya and then from Iran. The war nevertheless dwindled to Moro raids and ambushes, and the MNLF itself was reported to have split into factions, partly on the lines of traditional ethnic and regional Moro rivalries.

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Nur Misuari

Still in response to the Jabidah massacre, Nur Misuari in 1969 would also organize the MNLF and started popularizing the term “Bangsamoro” as an identity distinct from “Filipino.”

 Nur Misuari  Image credit: Philippine Headline News Online

By 1972, the MNLF would gain national and international prominence with a series of well-coordinated attacks against several detachments of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Sulu, Cotabato and Lanao provinces. These attacks signaled the commencement of a full-scale war in the Bangsamoro homeland and the beginning of the armed struggle to assert the Moros’ right to self-determination.

As originally seen by the MNLF, the right of the Moro people to self-determination can be fully expressed only through independence and the establishment of a Bangsamoro republic. However, under the Tripoli Agreement of Dec. 23, 1976, the MNLF reduced its demand to “genuine political autonomy” within the realm of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippine republic.

This agreement between the Philippine government during the Marcos regime and the MNLF was forged under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Peace, however, was hard to come by despite the conclusion of a final peace agreement in 1996 between the government during the Ramos administration and the MNLF.

Salamat Hashim

The Tripoli Agreement led to the breakup of the MNLF as a large faction led by Sheik Salamat Hashim dissociated from the group of Misuari in 1977. The new faction opposed Misuari’s acceptance of autonomy instead of continuing the struggle for independence.

Image result for hashim salamat picUstadz Hashim Salamat Image credit: SlideShare

The group would later be known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the leadership of which came mostly from religious scholars. The MILF’s pronounced objective was Bangsamoro independence.

The struggle for Moro self-determination was back on the agenda.


Modern Days 

Islam is the second fast-growing religion in the Philippines. The Muslim culture of the Philippines have somewhat experienced a semi-revival.

On February 18, 2010, then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act of 9997, replacing the Office of Muslim Affairs to National Commission on Muslim Filipinos which promoted Filipino Muslims’ rights on a national and local level which includes the hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca which is Islam’s holiest city.

Related imageImage credit: YouTube

Muslims have also been put into political power in western Mindanao, these are descendants of sultans who ruled the southern Philippines and some even control predominantly-Christian cities. However, it is simply too late for many of the separatist groups of Mindanao who still wish to established an independent Bangsamoro state and those of the Royal Sulu Army wishing to re-establish te Sultanate of Sulu. The district of Quiapo today has sizable Muslim population in Manila. Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei funded the building a large mosque in Cotabato City, named after him, which is now the largest mosque in the Philippines.

Despite the encouragement of Muslim culture, the crisis of independence war in Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago still rages on following more insurgencies by Moro militants and incursions by Filipino troops, causing more casualties and displacing many people out of their homes. The two worse included an armed Moro incursion into the Malaysian district of Lahad Datu in February 2013 killing many Malaysian policemen and in Zamboanga City in September 2013 where Moro and Filipino forces clashed. The Moros were unsuccessful in both battles.

Lahad Datu and Zamboanga City Stand-off – February- September 2013

In 2013, Moro groups waged a series of unsuccessful battles in both the Philippines and Malaysia. On February 11, 2013, 101 armed militants who referred to themselves as the Royal Sulu Army, sent by the late Jamalul Kiram III, a claimant to the Sulu Sultanate, arrived by boats from the island of Tawi-Tawi in the Sulu Archipelago to carry out their will to retake Sabah.

Agbimuddin Kiram, Jamalul’s chosen crown prince and heir to the throne at the time was chosen to lead the group himself and led to the group to the Malaysian district of Lahad Datu in the state of Sabah.

Image result for Agbimuddin Kiram pic Image credit: defenders of philippine sovereignty

The Malaysian police surrounded the Moro groups in Lahad Datu, and was also accompanied by some neighboring Philippine forces. The Malaysian armed forces were successful in carrying out the operations to route and stop the militants. On September 2013, the Moros began another attack back at home in Zamboanga City, one of Mindanao’s major economic centers. This time, Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front was the perpetuator of the battle. On September 9, 2013 the Moro militants tried to hoist their flag on top of the Zamboanga City Hall  for the intent of establishing a Bangsamoro Republik, rather than a historical sultanate.[16] Like the Malaysian troops in Sabah, the Filipino forces and police in Mindanao were successful in routing the militants and retaking territories that the MNLF had attacked. The battle was also marked by unified attacks among other Muslim militant groups in the Philippines, including rogue-MNLF factions and terrorist groups such as the Abu-Sayyaf.


The Moro people are mostly speakers of Austronesian languages. The most-spoken native languages of the Moro are the Maguindanaon, Tausūg and Maranao languages. The Maguindanao language is spoken in the Maguindanao Province, the Maranao language is predominant in the Lanao region, and is the majority spoken in Lanao del Sur and the Tausūg language is spoken in the Sulu Archipelago with speakers in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Other Austronesian languages spoken by their respective tribes are the Sama-Bajau languages, Yakan and Kalagan.

Spoken is also the Filipino language, which is based on a native dialect from Luzon known as Tagalog, for the sake of living in the Philippines.

Because of the mass influx of Cebuano migrants in Mindanao, many of the Moros tend to be exposed to the Cebuano language from Visayan easily enough to be able to speak it, especially with the Tausūg since Tausūg is a dialect of Visayan.

A sizable minority can still speak the Malay language, also an Austronesian language which was the once the lingua franca the Philippine Archipelago prior to conact with Spain. Arabic, a central Semitic language is also spoken by a minority of the Moro people. Historically, amid Spanish conquest, Malay and Arabic were the lingua francas of the sultanates in Mindanao. Today, many Moro merchants use Malay to converse with citizens of the neighboring Malay-speaking nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Most of the Malay-speaking Muslims of the Philippines are those in the southern parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Sulu Archipelago and the southern predominantly Muslim-inhabited municipalies of Bataraz and Balabac in Palawan.

Chavacano (sometimes spelled as Chabacano or Chabakano) is a Philippine Spanish Creole, that gained popularity as a Philippine major language during the short-lived Republic of Zamboanga. Most of the Moros have also attained the ability to speak this language, specifically the Zamboanga dialect known as Zamboangueño especially those that live in Zamboanga.

Most of the languages of the Moro people are written in the Latin script. However, an Arabic script known as Jawi is used to write the Tausūg language, which itself was for the Malay language. Attempts are being made to make Jawi an official script in the de facto Bangsamoro state.


As you may now know, the Moro people are Muslims. Islam has been a defining aspect of Moro culture and they worked diligently to avoid religious conversions by Catholic bishops and defend Islam in the archipelago or at least in the southern parts of the Philippines.

Most Moros are adherents to Sunni Islam or Folk Islam, which is a mix of Islamic and and pre-Islamic Animistic-Buddhist traditions. A Shiite minority exists, those who intermingle into Iranian expatriot families.

The presence of Jersuit missionaries in Mindanao had threatened the presence of Islam in the region. At one point, even in Mindanao, Islam was at the brink of becoming an extinct religion. During the Spanish era, Jesuit missionaries did succeed in converting clans of Tausūg and Yakan people to Christianity, almost all of their descendants today have converted or reverted to Islam. Marawi City is governed under the Islamic jurisdiction known as the Shariah.

The term Moro can also refer to the natives of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, there are Christians among predominantly-Muslim groups such as the Bajaus and Yakans who follow either Islam or Christianity, those who follow the un-Hispanized culture in the Philippines.



Visual Art

The indigenous culture of the Moro people are well-renowned for its colorful art, especially for the groups that follow Folk Islam or still follow pre-Islamic folk practices. The Tausūg people of Sulu and the Zamboanga Peninsula are known for their colorful boats, known as vintas.

Image result for vintas of zamboanga picVintas from Zamboanga Image credit: Escape Manila

The sarimanok is a legendary bird that dominates the art of the Maranaoan people.

Image result for sarimanok of maranao epicSarimanok of Maranaon Image credit: SlideShare

The Moro people were also renowned for being skilled swordsmiths, producing swords known as a kris and a dagger known as the barong (not to be mistaken for the Filipino attire of the same name).

Image result for moro kris and barong picBarong Image credit:Wikipedia

The kris sword has become a very symbolic weapon for the Moro people, the Moros had used these to fight the Spanish and American conquests.

Related imageKris Image credit:

The Moro people are also skilled weavers and tailors. Women wear a traditional clothing known as a malong, which is a colorful woven cloth wrapped around the body.

Image result for moro malong picMalong Image credit: YouTube

The patadyong is worn by both men and women, which is a lerge length of fabric wrapped around the waist, it is very similar to the sarongs of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Image result for moro men patadyong of philippines picturesPatadyong or sarong Image credit: Reflections


Maguindanaoan and Maranao men wear a headgear known as a tobao, which is called a ppis in Sulu which has geometric designs and Arabic calligraphy.

Related imageTobao Image credit: Ethnipedia Wiki – Fandom



The music of the Moro people is very indigenous and traditional, and the unifying music of the Muslims of the southern Philippines revolves around the kulintang, which is a gong ensemble popular in eastern Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines. The kulintang is commonly played with sticks like a lyre.

Image result for maguindanao kulintang picThe Maguindanao kulintang is  a modern term for an ancient instrumental form of music composed on a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums.  Image credit: philipdominguezmercurio

The larger gongs, which are suspended vertically are known as agungs, which accompany a kulintang ensemble. The agung and the kulintang are people among both the Muslim and the non-Muslim groups of the southern Philippines.


AGUNG  Is a set of two wide- rimmed, vertically suspended gongs used by the Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama- Bajao and Tausug people as a supportive instrument in kulintang ensemble. Image credit:


Dancing is a common Austronesian tradition, the groups of the Philippines and Indonesia are no exception. Filipino dances are known a fiestas, or sinulog, but because these tend to favor Roman Catholicism and its arrival in the Philippines, the Moros perform their own traditional dances and parades, many of them performed during weddings and festivals.

Image result for maguindanaon sinulog dance picSagayan Festival Dancers of Datu Piang, Maguindanao Image credit:

The Maranaoan folk dance is known as the singkil, which is the Maranoan interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana.

Image result for singkil dance pictureSingkil dance Image credit: Culture of the Philippines 


The Tausūg people perform the pangalay. As usual, these are accompanied by kulintang and agung ensembles.


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Pangalay Dance in Jolo, Sulu Image credit:



Moro architecture is more or less influenced by Malay and mainstream Islamic architecture. Most of the earliest mosques in the southern Philippines were built of wood, until the arrival of major powers.

Related imageOld mosque Image credit:

Some Moros such as the Tausūg and Bajau people are seafaring ethnic groups that do not have a permanent settlement on land.

Related imageImage credit: SlideShare

Image result for tausug and badjao house picBadjao Village in Basilan Image credit: My Mindanao by Nanardx



The native cuisine of Mindanao resembles those of Malaysia and Indonesia, and contains Indian and Arab influence and other components not found in the culinary traditions outside of Muslim Mindanao. Compared to the cuisine of other regions in the Philippines which tend to be sweetened, Moro cuisine is rather rich in spices. Typical ingredients of the Moro people include chili, turmeric, sambal, coriander, lemongrass and peanut butter. Because Islamic laws prohibit pork consumption, pork and alcohol are absent in the native cuisine of the southern Philippines.

Image result for satay food picSatay kambing (goat) Image credit: Wikipedia

Satay, which is a skewered snack consisting of various meats or seafoods in a sweet sauce is eaten in its pure form in the southern Philippines, known assatti as opposed to the variant eaten in the other parts of the Philippines which is a pork snack that Filipinos refer to as barbeque.

Image result for pyanggang food pic Image credit: Google Sites

Pyanggang is a barbeque-chicken dish marinded in spices made with toasted coconut meat.

Image result for tiyula itum food picTiyula Itum (Black soup) Image credit: YouTube

Tiyula itum is also a Tausūg dish, which is a beef soup that consists of burnt coconut meat.

Image result for moro ginataang manok picGinataang manok Image credit: Ang Sarap Recipes

Ginataang manok, chicken cooked in a spicy coconut milk is also popular in Mindanao.

Image result for rendang spicy beef curry picImage credit: Manila Spoon

Rendang is a spicy beef curry dish, that was introduced from the Minangkabau people of Indonesia.

Image result for pilaf food picRice pilaf Image credit: Food Network

The Turkish rice dish known as pilaf is also eaten as kiyonig, and the Indian rice dish known as biryani, or nesi biryani in Malay.

Related imageChicken biryani Image credit:


The only other region outside of Muslim Mindanao where biryani can be found is the province of Pampanga in Luzon.

Image result for piarun a odang picImage credit: It’s a Maranao Thing –

Food is of great value to the Maranaoan people. Piarun a odang is a spicy-shrimp dish popular with the Maranaoan people. The chicken variant, piarun a manok is also available.


Notable Moros, Filipino Muslims


Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo - SkyscraperCity Image credit:

The 32nd sultan of Sulu, the Spaniards were led eventually to deal with him as the Sultan of Sulu in spite of his repeated refusal to go to Manila on a state visit. Jamalul-Kiram II died on June 7, 1936. In 1915, he virtually surrendered his political powers to the United States government under the 1915 Carpenter Agreement. Jamalul Kiram II died without leaving any children.


Image result for nur misuari picImage credit:World News

A Moro politician from the Philippines who is the founder and leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, and also worked as a lecturer at the University of the Philippines.


Related image                                            Image credit:

The rajah of the Kingdom of Maynila (and later Tondo) from Luzon who tried to accept the Spanish friendship without converting or giving up his land he led a rebellion with companion Lakan Dula against the Spanish armies, one of the Three Kings of Manila.


Image result for tarik sulayman pic                                                  Image credit: Holy Angel University – Laus Deo Semper

The alleged Kapampangan leader from Macabebe that led native forces to battle Spanish forces in the Battle of the Bangkusay Channel in Tondo, the people of Macabebe consider him the first Filipino martyr over the nationally favored Cebuano warrior Lapu-Lapu.


Related image                               Image credit:

Fifth sultan of Maguindanao, a descendant of Kabungsuwan who defeated Spanish forces in Maguindanao and emerged as Mindanao’s most powerful Muslim ruler, became a Philippine National Hero under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos.


Image result for datu piang pic  Image credit:Pinterest

A prominent datu from Cotabato, he was born to a Chinese father and a Maguindanaon mother (he was a mestizo), he was the undisputed Moro leader of Central Mindanao at the time of American administration, his son, Gumbay Piang led the Moro-Bolo Battalion against the Japanese forces during World War II.


Image result for salipada k pendatun pinterest pic Image credit: Provincial Planning & Development Office – Province of Cotabato

A Philippine lawyer, military officer and statesman of the Maguindanaon ethnicity, he is the first Filipino Muslim to hold these offices. He fought against the Japanese during World War II, forming the Bolo Battalion, he held the position as a Brigadiere General in the armed forces, when he was the governer of the Cotabato Province, it was the most prosperous province in the island of Mindanao.


Image result for SHEIKH AHMAD BASHER pic  Image credit:Wikipedia

Filipino Muslim Ālim, former president and founder of the Agama Islam Society. He grew to be a very influential Muslim leader in the Philippines, and helping found many Islamic studies in Mindanao. He received numerous awards from Muslim organizations in the Philippines. He is of the Maranaoan ethnic group, from Lanao del Sur.


Image result for Aleem Said Ahmad Basher PICImage credit: YouTube

A Saudi-born Filipino-Muslim Alim of the Maranaon ethnicity, an active and influential Islamic preacher, broadcaster, lecturer and Islamic consultant (an expert / resource person). He is the current chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines. A Muslim leader and Imam, who tends to the community development, social needs and spiritual guidance of Muslim citizenry specifically those who are living in the Islamic communities in Metro Manila areas, and its nearby provinces in Luzon.


Image result for TUCAO O MASTURA PIC  Image credit: Wikipedia

An influential politician of the southern Philippines, a descendant of Sultan Muhammad D. Kudarat of Maguindanao who belongs to the Mastura political family in Mindanao, rival of the Ampatuans who committed the gruesome Maguindanao massacre he is the current mayor of Sultan Kudarat municipality in the province of Maguindanao.


Image result for santanina rasul pic Image credit: Mindanao Times

Real name is Santanina Tilla Rasul, a Filipina statesman and senator, who is the first Muslim member of the Senate of the Philippines, she also spearheaded projects and movements aimed towards gender equality, such as the role of women in the Philippine military, in 1990 she was designated as the Honorary Ambassador of UNESCO


Image result for mujiv hataman pic

A Filipino politician and current Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after being appointed by President Benigno Aquino III. He represented the Anak Mindanao party-list in Congress from 2001 to 2010.

In addition: 

MOHAGHER IQBAL is one of the notable moros.

Related imageImage credit:

Mohagher Iqbal is the nom de guerre ( an assumed name under which a person engages in combat or some other activity or enterprise) of the member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who serves as chair of the group’s peace panel. Igbal joined the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in August 1972 after he returned from Manila. Later he joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), then known as the New MNLF Leadership. He served in various posts in both the MNLF and MILF. Iqbal is a member of the MILF Central Committee, and chair of MILF committee on information. He is also the peace negotiating panel of the group since July 2003. When the Bangsamoro Transition Commission was formed he was nominated by his group to serve as chair of the peace commission.


CNN Philippines:

BOL approved

Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles (left) congratulates Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sinsuat Sema (2nd right) after the House leadership under new Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approved the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law Tuesday night at the House of Representatives. BOL is the first legislation passed under the new House Speaker.

Duterte signs Bangsamoro Organic Law



Image result for duterte signs bangsaoro organic law pic CNN  Image credit: Twitter 

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 26, 2018) — In a historic move, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

During a speech in Zamboanga City on July 26, the President said he had signed the new law.

“Napirmahan ko na ang BOL. I do not, I have no expectations. Baka hindi magustuhan ng lahat. O di tignan natin kung kayang i-modify, palitan,” Duterte said.

[Translation: I have signed the BOL. I have no expectations, not everyone might like it. If so then we’ll see if we can modify, change it.]

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed this in a message to reporters.

“This is to announce that the President has just signed the BOL into law,” Roque said.

Officially called the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), the law abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734. The ARMM groups the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

This comes days after the House of Representatives ratified the bill on Tuesday, after it was delayed due to the change in the chamber’s leadership. The Senate ratified the proposed measure on Monday.

Duterte, the first Philippine President who hails from Mindanao, earlier certified the bill as urgent, prompting Congress to fast-track its passage. The bicameral conference committee approved the final version of the bill on July 18.

The historic law abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734. The ARMM groups the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The ARMM will be replaced by the the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BOL, which is the result of decades-long peace talks, institutionalizes provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the 2014 peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Bangsamoro government will be parliamentary-democratic in form, a first in the country’s political history. It will be headed by the regional leader called Chief Minister, who will preside over an 80-member parliament.


Image result for federalism philippines Image credit: SlideShare Time for federalism has come–Duterte

President Duterte said the time for the country’s shift to federal government has come, adding that the unitary form of government was only good at the time that the country was developing as a nation.

Since his presidential campaign, Duterte has been pushing for federalism, which he said will help achieve peace in Mindanao and spur economic development throughout the country in all regions and not just in “imperial” Manila.

Duterte’s consultative committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution is also 95-percent to 98-percent done with its draft federal Constitution, which they will be submitting on July 9 to the President, the committee’s self-imposed deadline. This is to give time for the President to review the draft before his State of the Nation Address on July 23.

Duterte also noted in his speech on Saturday night that history then did not mind the struggles of both Christians and Muslims in Mindanao and the Moro people.

“We have to move away from the unitary form of government, which has been in existence or set up originally by Spaniards. It has always been a strong central government,” he said during a speech before Filipino Muslims during the 2018 Eid’l Fitr celebration at the SMX Convention Center in Davao.

He noted that it is also time for Filipinos to understand that the people in Mindanao have been victims of injustice.

“I am for federalism. I am for peace,” he said.

Mindanao Development Authority  Chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto also expressed his support for the President’s campaign promise for the country to shift to federalism.

“Nevertheless, it is acknowledged by all groups and experts in peace process that the unitary state and unitary constitution can never fully address the demands and the aspirations of the Bangsamoro, which is sovereignty-based,” he said.

Alonto said the country has also witnessed the President’s political will in pursuing the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) in Congress minus the unconstitutional provisions which the President cited in his previous pronouncements.

Duterte also vowed to pass BBL during his term and hoped that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Founding Chairman Nur Misuari can join the talks.

“So that if there are corrections or maybe additions, or provisions that would not sit well with Tausug and the rest of southern part of Mindanao, the maybe we can realize altogether the friction of the [armed Muslim guerrilla groups] and the rest of Mindanao,” he said.  The President said it is very important that they get together and pass BBL so as to prevent the entry of terrorist groups.

“If, per chance, nothing really works out here in BBL, then give us time because I do not want to fight,” he said. “I do not wage a war against my own countrymen.”

Both houses of Congress have passed their own versions of BBL after the President certified the bill as urgent.

The bill seeks to advance the creation of the new Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a bid to address the diverse needs of the Bangsamoro people and all Mindanao communities to achieve lasting peace for the island group and the country as a whole.

Image result for duterte signs bangsaoro organic law pic CNNImage credit: SlidePlayer







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