Who is the US supporting in the Mindanao War?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-08-19
Promoters of an all-out-war in Mindanao should read the letter that the late MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) Chairman Salamat Hashim wrote to US President George W. Bush (dated January 20, 2003) which outlines how the US guaranteed to provide the Muslims with their own Moroland. This letter was coursed through then US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone.

During Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State visit to the US in March 2003, President Bush reportedly referred to Salamat’s letter and advised her to make peace in Mindanao.

US acceptance of Salamat’s points implies the following:

1. The US guaranteed to give the Muslims their independent Moroland, as stated in the 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the US and the subsequent Kiram-Bates Treaty of 1899.

2. The US accepts the role of being the Protector of an independent Moroland.

3. The Muslim territory was already recognized as an independent Moroland even before we became an independent state in 1946.

Now read the letter of Salamat Hashim and see the hidden dimensions of the current conflict:

20 January 2003

Your Excellency:

In the name of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), we send our profound and felicitous greetings of peace on behalf of the Bangsamoro People of our historic homeland in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.

The Bangsamoro People have always looked upon your country, the United States of America, and its people, with esteem as a great champion of freedom and democracy. The founding fathers of the American Nation as firm believers of “self-evident truths” and “inalienable rights” have become inspirations for the Moro Nation in our quest for the right to self-determination.

Your ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Francis J. Ricciardone, who recently addressed the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, raised the question of the US Government’s desire to know “what they (MILF) want or how it’s (the Problem) going to be resolved.”

We take this opportunity to inform Your Excellency that the MILF is a national liberation organization, with leadership supported by the Bangsamoro People, and with legitimate political goal to pursue the right of the Moro Nation to determine their future and political status. As part of this process, we have an on-going negotiation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to arrive at a negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict and the Bangsamoro problem, through the mediation and tender of good offices of the Government of Malaysia.

Your desire to be informed of the MILF goals reminds us of the historic, legal and political relationship between the Moro Nation and the US Federal Government as borne out by documents, treaty relations and instruments. Your official policy, under William McKinley’s Instruction to the First Philippine Commission of 1900, treated the Moro Nation initially as a Dependent Nation similar to North American Indian Nations under treaty relations with the US Federal Government. Subsequently, the Moro Nation was accorded the political status of a US protectorate under the Kiram-Bates Treaty of 1899, confirming the Treaty of 1878 between Sultan of Sulu and Spain.

Your policy to consider the Philippine archipelago as an unincorporated territory of the United States paved the way for the US Government to administer affairs in the Moro territories under a separate political form of governance under the Moro Province from the rest of the Philippine Islands.

Your project to grant Philippine independence obliged the leaders of the Moro Nation to petition the US Congress to give us an option through a referendum either by remaining as a territory to be administered by the US Government or granted separate independence 50 years from the grant of Philippine independence. Were it not for the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Moro Nation would have been granted trust territory status like any of the Pacific islands states who are now independent or in free association with the United States of America.

On account of such circumstances, the Moro Nation was deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination, without waiving their plebiscitary consent. Prior to the grant of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, American Congressional leaders foresaw that the inclusion of the Moro Nation within the Philippine Commonwealth would result in serious conflicts in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, arising from the inability of the Filipino leaders to govern the Moro people. This condition or states of affairs have continued to prevail to the present day.

In view of the current global developments and regional security concerns in Southeast Asia, it is our desire to accelerate the just and peaceful negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict, particularly the present colonial situation in which the Bangsamoro people find themselves.

We are therefore appealing to the basic principle of American fairness and sense of justice to use your good offices in rectifying the error that continuous to negate and derogate the Bangsamoro People’s fundamental right to seek decolonization under the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960. For this purpose, we are amenable to inviting and giving you the opportunity to assist in resolving this predicament of the Bangsamoro People.

With assurances of our highest esteem and cordial regards.

Very truly yours, SALAMAT HASHIM, Chairman

Before going on an all-out-war, we should first ascertain if the US is REALLY supporting us. Can we win even without US support? Worse — what if the US wants to be the protector of an independent Moroland and is actually supporting them?

Great military strategists like Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu both recommended that a country shouldn’t fight a war it cannot win.

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