Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 27 August 10 - 16, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Hashim: Planting the Seeds of Jihad
than any other Moro leader, Salamat Hashim reawakened the Islamic consciousness
of the Moro people. He made them proud of their identity. He gave them a vision.
CARLOS H. CONDE
DAVAO CITY – In
the end, no amount of demonization by the Arroyo regime could obscure the
greatness of Salamat Hashim. His people poured out their respect and admiration.
Fellow revolutionaries hailed his steadfastness and loyalty to the revolution.
Even government functionaries admitted, either grudgingly or hypocritically,
that he had been a worthy adversary.
Not bad for a Moro
leader who, only three months ago, was roundly labeled and disparaged by the
government as a terrorist.
Salamat Hashim: 'Visionary and realist'
Taking over as the
new MILF chairman is Al Haj Murad who has also headed the Front’s military
component, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).
Hashim, who died of
natural causes on July 13 at age 61, had been the reclusive chairman of the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He rarely gave interviews or made public
appearances. But his presence in Moro society was always palpable.
Newly-elected chairman, Al Haj Murad
“More than any
other Moro leader, Hashim reawakened the Islamic consciousness of the people. He
made us proud of our identity. He gave us a vision,” said Moner Bajunaid, an
Islamic scholar who had been a member of the MILF’s negotiating panel. And
Hashim stuck with that vision through the end.
Born in 1942 to an
upper middle-class family in Maguindanao, Hashim was educated in Islamic studies
and philosophy in Egypt. It was there that he became politicized, ending up
forming, along with Nur Misuari, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Both
also came from the same career they chose to lead before they went full-time as
revolutionaries: Hashim as a teacher and Misuari, who taught political science
at the University of the Philippines.
While Hashim was
deeply religious, he was also pragmatic. When, in 1976, the MNLF was negotiating
with the Marcos regime, Hashim had reservations. That year, Misuari signed the
Tripoli Agreement drafted by the Marcos regime. By signing the agreement,
Misuari basically allowed the subordination of the Moro revolution by the
Philippine Constitution, which was what the Moro revolutionaries were rebelling
against to begin with. Hashim thought signing the agreement was foolish.
When interviewed by
journalist Carolyn Arguillas in April 2000, Hashim expounded on his differences
with Misuari: “I did not like the idea of negotiating within the framework of
Constitution. I said once we agree, we can't move anymore because whatever we
say, government will just say it's against the Constitution. Another thing was I
did not like the idea of the Tripoli Agreement (because) if we look at the
territory covered by the Tripoli Agreement, it was not practical because it
covers areas now no longer dominated by the native inhabitants/Bangsamoro so I
believed it was not practical. It covered Davao. Davao was no longer dominated
by the Bangsamoro." Hashim told Arguillas that he wanted to cover
"only the territories/areas where the Bangsamoro people were still a
Two years later,
Hashim, along with like-minded revolutionaries, broke away from the MNLF, the
first Muslim separatist organization, to form a group that later came to be
known as the MILF. Misuari went on to deal with the government, signing in 1996
the so-called Final Peace Agreement that, ironically, spelled the doom of
Misuari and boosted the MILF.
death, Arguillas wrote: “The course of history could have changed had Hashim's
point been considered. But he was outvoted. Misuari's idea prevailed, he
recalled, because ‘majority of those who were around in Tripoli were his
friends.’ If his suggestion had been followed in 1976, ‘something could have
been achieved.’” Misuari is now in prison, after allegedly leading an
uprising in southern Philippines early last year.
Searching for solutions
Although the MILF
hews closely to Islamic principles, it nevertheless wants nothing less than a
separate Islamic state for the Moros. “Give us back the freedom and
independence, which were forcibly usurped from our people, and there will be
just and lasting peace in Mindanao. It is as simple as that,” Hashim said in
an interview with an Islamic publication 2001.
And if attaining a
separate Islamic state requires considering options other than armed struggle,
Hashim and the MILF seemed to be saying, so be it.
Indeed, the MILF
wants the United States and the United Nations (UN) to be involved in the search
for a solution to the three-decades-old conflict in Mindanao that has killed
tens of thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands, mostly Muslim civilians.
Hashim was likewise convinced of this strategy.
“He felt that the help of the United States was needed
because the Philippine government has not lived up to its promises,” said
like other Islamic religious leaders, loathed “decadent” Western ways and
culture, “he was not anti-American per se. He welcomed the help – not
intervention – of the United States. He wanted somebody that can guarantee the
success of the peace process,” Bajunaid said.
Last month, the
American ambassador to the Philippines, Francis Ricciardone, disclosed that the
United States Institute of Peace, which was created by the U.S. Congress in
1984, would be an observer in the coming peace negotiations to be held in
Malaysia. The Bush administration, through the USAID, has also pledged $30
million, to be used for livelihood projects for MILF guerrillas once an
agreement is signed.
Hashim also wanted a
UN-sponsored referendum in Mindanao to settle the issue of a separate Islamic
state. He and most Filipino Muslims were always convinced that Mindanao was
never colonized by the Spaniards, who came to the Philippines in the 1500s. To
them, the trouble in Mindanao started only in the late 1800s, after Spain ceded
the Philippines – including the Muslim sultanates it had not conquered – to
the U.S. for $20 million. As a result, the Muslims rebelled and the Americans
responded by launching a brutal pacification campaign.
At the same time,
however, the MILF forged an alliance with the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) in 1999, with the formal documents signed by the two parties
in Camp Abubakar on July 24 that year.
continues to this day. On August 5, the NDFP, in an unprecedented statement
signed by six NDFP leaders in Mindanao, called Hashim a “true leader” and a
“comrade” who “stood firm for the revolutionary struggle of the Moro
people’s right to self-determination. When the MNLF abandoned the armed
struggle, the MILF under Comrade Hashim persevered with the armed struggle to
liberate the Moro people.”
behalf of the NDFP National Executive Committee, NDFP chief negotiator Luis
Jalandoni saluted Hashim, noting his “broad and farsighted revolutionary
vision in building mutually beneficial cooperative relations between the
MILF-BIAF and the CPP-NDFP-NPA.”
revolutionary alliance established and formalized under his leadership is of
great strategic significance for the continued advance and eventual victory of
the revolutionary struggles of the Moro people and the entire Filipino
people,” said Jalandoni.
Jalandoni, Hashim was “so totally committed to the Moro people's struggle
that, even when he was seriously ill, he refused to be brought to a hospital and
risk being captured by the enemy. He always had the interest of the Moro people
In his statement, Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, Communist Party spokesman, also spoke of the “fruitful revolutionary alliance” which he said started way back in 1980s although formalized only in 1999.
Passion for freedom
Datu Cosain Naga,
spokesperson of the Moro-Christian Peoples Alliance, had this to say of Hashim:
“The death of Mr. Salamat Hashim, a great and praiseworthy leader of the
Bangsamoro people, is indeed a great loss to their struggle for
self-determination. Despite his firm belief in the armed revolutionary struggle
as the only solution to the Moro peoples’ quest for genuine freedom, he has
shown sincerity in pursuing their goal through peaceful means by participating
earnestly in the peace negotiations.”
Naga said Hashim’s
leadership “should be duly credited for his firm resolve not to surrender
arms, as demanded by the government, unless a tangible result of the peace talks
is assured. Through this, he has genuinely upheld the interests of the
Call it political
savvy but it was clear Hashim and the MILF learned a thing or two from the
failure of the MNLF. It was perhaps in this context that Orlando Quevedo, the
archbishop of Cotabato and the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of
the Philippines (CBCP), called Hashim, in a report by MindaNews, "not only
a visionary but a realist."
Abhoud Syed Lingga,
chairman of the non-government Bangsamoro People’s Consultative Assembly, said
Hashim “had a simple passion in life: freedom.”
It is this
“passionate yearning for freedom that compelled him to stay with the
oppressed, share their sufferings, and court death in the hands of the
oppressors and enemies of peace. Many times he was offered the security and
comfort of a sanctuary in friendly Muslim countries. But he gracefully spurned
these offers, preferring instead to live with the impoverished Bangsamoro
masses, seek refuge and comfort in prayers to his Creator, and patiently endure
the spartan life of a mujahid in the harsh jungles, mountains and marshes of the
In short, Hashim was a revolutionary to the very end – and, perhaps, beyond. It is said that Hashim once uttered these words: “Even if I die, the next generation will continue the struggle. I have planted the seed of jihad in the heart of the Bangsamoro.” Bulatlat.com Mindanao Bureau