Ethnic Conflict in the Philippines

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Autonomy…Again? Foreword This paper summarizes the historical background, causes, and a possible solution to end the ongoing ethnic conflict in The Philippines. The Muslim Filipinos of Mindanao and the Christian Filipinos have been fighting the second oldest internal ethnic dispute in the world. Over 120,000 people have died and 2 million have been displaced in this four decades long battle.1 For many years, the central government’s attempts at peace, institutional restructuring, and regional autonomy have failed. It is clear that this ethnic conflict must be resolved in order for the country to progress economically, and by allowing the Muslim Filipinos of Mindanao to truly be autonomous and having equal and fair representation in the…show more content…
In just a few years, the nonMoro population in Mindanao rose from 15% to nearly 75% as the new settlers found economic success. The Moro desire to secede from the Philippines was first articulated in Congress as early as 1961 by Sulu Congressman Ombra Amilbangsa; who requested full independence of the Sulu Province in southern Mindanao. In 1986 the Mindanao Independence Movement began to voice the injustices done to the Moro People. The MIM had four major reasons to justify the Mindanao secession from the Philippines. The MIM claimed that the municipal and provincial government institutions disrupted the authority of traditional leaders, the new legal system caused a breakdown in traditional social order, public education forced a Christian value set onto the Muslim children, and finally that the poverty faced by the Muslim population was due to the fact that Mindanao was held in possession by non-Moros. The MIM quickly transformed into the Moro National Liberation Front; a group dedicated to secession through armed force. Negotiations5 The MNLF began during the declaration of Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law in the 1970’s. The Philippine army used military force, terror, and intimidation to silence the secessionists and the MNLF retaliated by using organized armed forces and so began the Civil War in 1972. After years of international pressure from the
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