Muslim Mindanao has always resisted any form of domination whether it springs from foreign imperialism or local manipulation of the ruling elite.
This image has not changed in time and it continues to be the basis of non-Muslims stereotyped opinion of the Moros in Mindanao.
Owing to the achievements of Moro leaders in the past like Sultan Kudarat and other Muslim Datus who fought against the Spaniards, common opinion revolves around the belief that Muslims will always be unyielding in fighting for their principles.
This image brings a two-prong effect: first, Muslims always adhere to belligerency and second, that Muslims, no matter how noble they pursue a cause will always be typified with all sorts of terror attacks on the innocent civilization.
Do I need to mention how the Muslims fought some sectors of the insensitive media for always associating the word “Muslim” with all forms of criminality. Is it because the Moro people are always perceived as “uncompromising”?
This cannot be so for during the Marcos regime, the late President allied with some powerful clans in Mindanao. Since then, other Muslim leaders fought hard for the support of Malacanang in their political bid. The struggle for supremacy in their individual turfs needed the blessings of whoever sits in Malacanang.
I guess, it was only during the past that “independence” from all forms was alive for there was no power struggle then that was motivated by vested interest.
Before an accusing finger points to the peace hungry people of Mindanao, we need you to understand our predicaments as Muslims before you judge the every individual fiber that runs in our veins.
DO WE NEED TO BE COLONIZED? Was it of the view of the Spanish colonizers then that the reason behind the Mindanao Problem was owing to conquest and colonization? Was it the reason then that the Spanish invaders launched a conquest in Mindanao against the Moros without let-up but failed to subjugate them?
Did the Americans believe that what ails Mindanao was a problem of special administration for the Moros through the concept of “wardship policy for self-rule”?
Was it the motivation of the Americans then to grant the “indirect rule” to the Moros under the so-called Moro Province from 1903 to 1913?
A palliative solution to quench the “perceived” hunger of the Muslims for power? An autonomy granted that is “pseudo-autonomy” in practice for it was still within the supervision of the American colonizers.
Was it really power struggle then and now that moved the Muslims to resist any form of dictation from the government and all its allies?
However, this and subsequent special administrations for the Moros had, one after the other, failed to solve the Moro problem.
The Philippine Commonwealth Government of 1935 initiated series of organized settlement programs in Mindanao since 1936 with the hope to complete the materialization of the amalgamation of Filipinos and Moros in common communities including their school children, to learn to live as one people.
All these anchored on the belief that the Mindanao problem was a problem of backwardness, illiteracy and assimilation. But it failed to address the interfaith problem correctly by not considering that biases against the Muslims was not created by the Moro community but by those outside the Moro populace.
Assimilation of people and culture can not be done overnight or in a short period of time. Years of subliminally recorded biases against the Muslims could not just be deleted by government programs that had been established with the wrong mission.
Extra-constitutional limits adopted by the Philippine government to grant self-rule to Mindanao’s native inhabitants through the establishment of regional autonomy in Muslim Mindanao did not work for it was viewed by the many Muslims as a puppet government and a mere extension of the central government in the south.
As in the past it had failed to solve the problem in Mindanao. But the question is—why did all these solutions fail to solve the Mindanao problem? The answer to this is through study and information by reviewing the struggles of the Muslims, how it originated and how it was sustained.
The Bangsamoro ideology has to be dissected to determine the right solution that should not just be effected through the usual one-sided approach to solving the Mindanao conflict.
The Moro will always be unyielding in his ideology. This is not merely about religion but about principles.
If you are a non-Muslim, please separate your bias from objectivity, for if you do not understand the entire history of the Moro people, then you will not understand the reason why they stood resiliently for their cause.