Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back Against the Wall

As soon as the last Japanese soldier had left the country, independence was granted to the Philippines by the United States. The timing was excellent for it perfectly coincided with the positive atmosphere created by the invasion. Fighting side by side against a common foe somehow gave the Moros and the Filipinos mutual approbation and satisfaction. The war also created remarkable opportunities, such as material rewards for jobs well done in the service of country and the United States. All these, however, were transitory. Under Filipino neo-colonial rule, the condition of the Moros became worse than when it was under the Americans. The regime was not only proved apathetic and discriminatory; it "resorted" to an extreme measure of systematic dispersal and destruction of the Moros.
On the basis of the past and the stark realities of the present, the Moros rightly or wrongly concluded that under the Filipino flag the future was hopeless and not worth living. There were no genuine efforts designed to set them free from the bondage of exploitation, oppression and persecution. The few or insignificant positive steps taken by the government were no more than palliatives to appease them momentarily.
Economically, a very large proportion of the Moro population sank deeply into the morass of poverty and hunger. In every respect, they lagged behind others. Moro communities remained stagnant and backward. The situation was so depraved that many believed the Moros were better off during pre-Spanish days than at present. One writer cited this pathetic situation in the following lines:
The national census of 1948 placed 80 percent of the Moslems as having no definite source of income, no property. This still holds today. An average Moslem is either a farmer or a fisherman.-'
In politics, there was steady loss of Moro-controlled areas in Mindanao as one province after another slipped from the hands of the natives. Newly created provinces went also to the newcomers.
The brief supremacy of the Moros in the local politics in Cotabato was cut short when the government arbitrarily made its proteges get elected. Case in point was that of Lt. Col. Carlos B. Cajelo, who was made to run and win in the 1971 gubernatorial race over Cotabato Gov. Datu Udtog Matalam, who was then otherwise unbeatable. In Lanao del Norte, Colonel Buenaventura, another congressional candidate, tried to contest the governorship of Lanao del Norte. Again, the unseen hand of the state pushed his candidacy vigorously to make him win. Only a last hour compromise, leaving no losers, saved the day for the Moros.
Muslim 1,060,965 11,209 129,951 1,488,331
2,089,941 3,491,465 4,318,665 1,679,209
Source: 1 990 Census on Population and Housing
In the field of education, the Western system was prevalent in the Philippines. Consequently a great many of those so-called educated class, like their predecessors during the American colonial rule, started looking to the West for inspiration and direction. What they learned, instead, was that spiritualism gave way to materialism, hedonism and easy life. Education, contrary to what Islam teaches, became the means to actualize material and social gains.
This time hordes of new migrants, concessionaires, businessmen and other gold- or power-seekers came in concentric waves. Methodically they edged out the natives first from the plains, valleys and hills and eventually out of the hinterlands. And in parallel precision, vast tracts of land were requisitioned for military reservations or camps which, in most cases. were owned by the Moros under the system of communal ownership. At first, only the immediate families of soldiers were allowed to live there but later their close and distant relatives and then their friends were accommodated until they formed clusters of communities. Since these groups wer c usually secured or armed, the* Moro neighbors nearby had to choose one of two evils: either they move out at the first instance or stay awhile, sell the lands if titled. and then leave. The third option was to stay and fight. Said Aijaz Ahmad in his write-up:
Pushed onto a mere 17 percent of their land, an agrarian people with no alternative directions for development - such as the Moros - must either perish or fight back. By the same token, the northern elite can make further substantive gains only through a genocidal war of total occupation.'
Estimated Moro & Non-Moro Population
in Mindanao, 1903-1990
Moro Population Non-Moro Population
NumberAs % of
Min. Pop'n
 As % of
  Min. Pop'n
1903 327,741 250,000 76 77,741 24
1913 518,698 324,816 63 193,882 37
1918 723,655 358,968 50 364,687 50
1939 2,244,421 755,189 34 1489,232 66
1948 2,943,324 933,101 32 2,010,223 68
1960 5,686,027 1,321,060 23 4,364,967 77
1970 7,963,932 1,669,708 21 6,294,224 79
1975 9,146,995 1,798,991 20 7,348,084 80
1980 10,905,243 2,504,332 23 8,400,911 77
1990 14,269,736 2,690,456 19 11,579,280 81
Sources: Che Man (1990); 1990 Census of Population and Housing

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