How Important is the MOA-AD on the Moro People’s Quest for Right to Self-Determination?

Several other land laws stole the lands of the Moros for big agricultural corporations, Iqbal wrote.

But Lidasan said the BJE should ensure that the plunder of lands in Mindanao should stop. Lidasan said Suara is wary of the provision in the BJE that continues existing mining concessions and timber licenses.

“How can we say that we are Bangsamoro if the lands where we are standing are already owned by big plantations and mining companies?” asked Lidasan.

Lidasan also said that they are wary of the US government intervening in the BJE because of the provision that allows joint ventures in developing and utilizing the resources.

“Will it still be an ancestral domain if foreign corporations already have claims over the land?” she asked.

Lidasan said the right to self-determination would not be realized if societies under the BJE are still oppressed.

She said that the Moro people continue to be displaced from their communities to give way to projects of big multi-national corporations. She said the government’s all-out war against bandits like the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya also displaced civilians from their communities.

In 2000, the government’s all-out war against the MILF killed over a hundred civilians and displaced 100,000 in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Davao Oriental; the “Silent War” (as she referred to the discreet entry of US troops for counterinsurgency operations) in 2000-2002 in Sulu; the attack of Buliok Complex in February 2003, displaced 160,000 and killed 12 people and nine children in Pikit, North Cotabato and Pagalungan, Maguindanao (Liguasan Marsh) .

In July 2001, the declaration of the “state of lawlessness” in Basilan, Zamboanga city and Sulu, forced 20,000 to leave their homes and led to the illegal arrest of 500 people.
Even the twin bombing of the Davao airport and Sasa wharf in 2003 led to warrantless arrests of Moro people in Cotabato and Davao City, Lidasan said.

The failed signing of the MOA-AD reminds the MILF of the failure of the Moro National Liberation Front’s peace negotiation with the government. If there is a lesson that MILF learned from MNLF, it is that the government will take back what it has conceded once the agreement is signed, Iqbal said.

Nur Misuari, MNLF chair, signed the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the Ramos administration in 1996. Iqbal said the Arroyo government cannot be trusted.
But no matter what happens to the MOA-AD, the MILF will continue the struggle for the right to self-determination, which is still the key to a lasting peace in Mindanao, Iqbal said.

“There is no easy path,” he said. “But we will move forward.”

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