Posted by: luvin | October 15, 2009

Campaign Issues

During the latest presidential debate initiated by ANZ, one issue presidentiables tried to tackle is the Mindanao Conflict. It is unfortunate that Mindanao is perenially viewed as a war zone. It pains me to hear thesame story line over the years. Mindanao is not only about the muslim struggle for self determination. We the non muslim likewise desire for greater freedom to determine our future.

Equally  disheartening are the views of our presidentiables on how to solve the conflict. Most have given motherhood statements, so I will no longer elaborate on each answer.

I would like to venture though on how I viewed this moro conflict, and possibly offer some idea on how this could be handled. Some observation listed below could be my basis.

1. The Moro struggle, is a struggle of the moro elite to regain control of their lost kingdom.

2. The Muslims (I am using it as generic for all group, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausog, Iranon, etc. Not the religion which would be referred to as Islam), are not united, but they are symphatytic to the cause.

3. The muslim-struggle  leaders are  highly educated in combat and in propaganda. They know how to exploit the simple minded-manila centric media.

4. The muslims and christians can co-exist.

5. The christians can defend themselves against the armed muslim group, specially if they will be allowed to do so.

6. Firearms are highly valued among the muslims.

7. The muslims should not be insulted, specially their religious beliefs.

8. The ilonggos and antiquenios have the gall the stand against the moro fighters. But not the ilocanos or the cebuanos.

9. The muslims are ferocios when insulted and when in a group, but meek when alone. When you stand squarely against them, they will not bully you.

10. The typical muslim is not thesame person depicted in media. Many are now educated are now in the mainstream. But are still symphatetic with the muslim struggle.

11. The educated muslim, and the muslim in general,  are already averse to war. They want a normal life. Many are now going into business as their way out.


Since the time when this conflict errupted in the 70’s,  the approach of the national leadership is one that is similar to the philosopher’s of the ancient time looking for the ultimate answer.  But apparently there is no such animal, then we should be looking for piecemeal solution, for each piecemeal problem.

At the back of my mind, I believe that when local governments are given enough leeway on how to solve this problem, they can do it. As Gilbert Teodoro explicitely explained; the conflict in Lanao is not the same as the conflict in Sarangani, or the conflict in Cotabato, thus we cannot have a one size fit all solution, as echoed by Chiz Escudero. Very clearly, the solution to different problems should be to each its own peculiarity. The solution should be piecemeal, not one all encompasing treaty.

In negotiation, more participants should be from Mindanao. The prevalent approach is that the president appoints someone who normally comes from Luzon to negotiate with the rebels. This is the lament of the local people of Mindanao with  regards to negotiation. Let the mindanaoans negotiate for their own good. Let us no longer have the Esperon brouhaha.

Another simplistic solution would be education. I have seen it, and it is very clear. The educated muslim will not go into war.  Pour enough resources towards the education of the muslim youth. MSU and USM are big enough to cater to the educational needs of the muslim youth.

Governance in the muslim LGU’s should likewise be strengthened. Corruption is a very big problem. Far bigger than in the national government. What they need are not controls but capacity building. The national government an NGO’s should play an active role in this aspect. The local muslim politician needs guidance. Most have a very low education, and low sense of social responsibility. The likes of Adel Tamano, Sam Pangandaman, Baduy… should work towards this end.


There are still numerous approaches, but the four points; 1. Delocalize the approach, by giving local LGU’s more power and thus responsibility to solve their conflicts, 2. Let Mindanaoans negotiate with their muslim counterpart, 3. Pour more money on education of muslim youth, 4. Empower the local muslim leaders (also the christian leaders) though capacity building not controls. 

If the next president could work on those four aspects, I can say the situation here in Mindanao will be a lot peaceful, and investment will come in faster than it is coming now.



  1. Amen! I could not have put it any other way. Well said.

  2. Electro Clothing

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