At no time in history had the issue of Mindanao independence been brought to a critical point as it is today. The issue had already been expressed as early as 1910 when the Zamboanga business sector presented a written petition to isolate the island for the development of "plantation interests". The same sentiment was aired in the written petition of Muslim datus, sultans, and leaders in 1930 when the question of Philippine independence from the United States elicited Muslim preference for exclusion from the projected free Philippines under Filipino rule. Then in the late 1970s the Independence aspiration of Mindanao was again revived by the Mindanao Independence Movement of DatuUdtogMatalam of PagalunganCotabato, Ruben Canoy of Cagayan de Oro, and NurMisuari of the Moro National Liberation Front. Only the latter succeeded in achieving a compromise agreement known as the Tripoli Agreement on December 23, 1976 through the mediation of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Although the OIC explanation was for the Agreement to be a Comprehensive representation of the Filipino Muslim Community, this was not acceptable to HashimSalamat and his MILF. This was where the critical point began from the Muslim perspective creating the problems, ambiguities, and dilemma in the government responses to the Mindanao conflict.
The government from Marcos to Estrada operated on the clear premises of the Tripoli Agreement that autonomy not independence was to be the framework of any resolution of issues and conflict and that the Philippine Constitution would be the point of reference for the definition of the meaningful extent of autonomy. But what the government has ignored and belittled were certain fundamental realities and facts that have remained active in Muslim consciousness:
"The present democratic system is not sufficient for real autonomy the Muslims may accept short of total independence. It must be something where the Christian majority has no more say or influence in Muslim affairs except ceremonial and nominal requirements of symbolic sovereignty." 1. That independence was still the underlying essence of autonomy for all Muslim social movements (MNLF, MILF, etc.) regardless of differences . 2. That any modus vivendi or compromise agreement related to the implementation of the Tripoli Accord would be temporary and tactical in nature, and 3. That the ultimate hope of the Muslim Community in the Philippines for progress and prosperity lies not in the Christian dominated state but in the dynamic relation and linkage to the Islamic world. In effect, the three foregoing facts are the underlying premises that constitute the general framework of the Muslim struggle however divided it seems are the various groups in their activities, leadership roles, rhetorics, and approaches. There are no perceivable indications that these premises are weakening. The contrary is what is obviously emerging. There are several corroborative factors that have contributed to the hardening of the independence imperative of the Muslim struggle, such as First, is the inability of the State through the government and its agencies to adequately or substantially meet the basic and ideal needs of the Muslim Community. While the government has not failed to initiate policies and draw up development plans along constitutional lines administration after administration since 1946 has somehow ended with the centuries old Moro Problem still unresolved. It is not easy and fair to altogether blame the government on the Bangsamoro armed groups and their supporters for the elusiveness and increasing difficulties of finding the permanent or, at least, a relatively long enduring peace vital to the kind of socioeconomic, political and cultural growth and progress the Philippines desires.
Second is the obvious trend on the part of the Muslim Community to seek ultimate satisfaction of their aspirations from within their own societies and the Muslim...
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