Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Recrudescence of Troubles

Exactly as it had been forewarned, hardly a year elapsed since the granting of independence without trouble erupting in Mindanao and Sulu. The momentary truce caused by the bitter pangs of the last war vanished as quickly as a passing fad after the superficialities or cosmetics of the day had worn off. As a matter of fact, the discriminatory policies persisted, the onrush of land-hungry outsiders continued unabated, greedy entrepreneurs and power-seekers saw the vast opening and seized it, while the Moro leadership escalated in lip-service or sank further in ineffectiveness. All these troublesome events continued to grow until fighting erupted once again.
Immediately after the War, in 1947, Saubing and Binang, two "notorious bandits" to the government, refused to cooperate with the maiden state. They started engaging government troops in Sulu sent to quell them. The situation deteriorated further when other Moro warriors joined the insurrection.
By about 1951, armed clashes started to rage over wide areas of Sulu, Lanao and Cotabato. The most bloody was the one launched by Kamlon Hadji and 100 followers. Despite their inferior strength and crude weapons comprising mostly of old rifles and krises and their being mainly restricted in the Luuk area on Jolo island, Kamlon and his band made the government shake in its shoes. They inflicted severe losses on lives, equipment and fund. For almost eight years the government engaged Kamlon and, during the final assault, 5,000 ground troops were utilized along with naval, air and mortar supports. Logistical expenditures, after the final inventory, amounted to P 185 million. Despite all this cost, Kamlon could not be routed or captured. He finally gave up conditionally due to advancing age.
At the same time, two Lanao chieftains, Abdulmajid Panondiongan and Tawantawan, were also proving very troublesome to the government. Like Kamlon, they decided to raise the banner of resistance and succeeded in inflicting considerable casualties on pursuing government troops. As expected, the uprising did not succeed but they brought to light the cumulative effects of official neglect, wrong assumptions, mistaken policies and lop-sided opportunities to the disadvantage of the Moros.
In Cotabato, the off-and-on armed skirmishes also during this period were outright dismissed as "plain banditry." As in other cases, these skirmishes were mainly in opposition to an imposed authority and the frequent intrusions of government agents into mainly Moro communities. The most wanted man tagged as "bandit" was Disumimba Rashid, the terror of the upland areas of Dinaig and Datu Piang.
In 1961, a move to fight the government with the ultimate aim of separating Mindanao and Sulu was winning adherents in Sulu. The leader, Hadjal Uh, had a motivation similar to those of his predecessors, save for the ideological undertone of his movement. He sought the resignation of the Christian governor of Sulu and called upon the people to refuse to pay taxes. But the movement was cut short when the leader was captured.
Also in 1961, Cong. Ombra Amilbangsa sponsored a bill in Congress which sought to declare the independence of the Province of Sulu.` He was disgusted by the chronic ills and inequalities' prevalent in society, which mainly hit the Moros. As foreseen, the bill did not merit the attention of his colleagues in Congress and his action was simply dismissed as "attention-calling."

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