Bongbong Marcos’ Sulu visit: How did Moro rebels react?

Angela Casauay
Bongbong Marcos’ Sulu visit: How did Moro rebels react?
Run for president, say some Sulu residents. Atone for the sins of your father, says the MILF.

SULU, Philippines – When Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr arrived in the province’s capital of Jolo on Wednesday, May 13, to hold a public consultation for a proposed law that aims to end the Moro rebellion, there was no mention of the alleged atrocities committed in Muslim-dominated areas under the regime of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

The consultation made no mention, too, of the Jabidah Massacre or the burning of Jolo, said to be the two incidents that sparked the rebellion in Mindanao led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Instead, senior leaders of the MNLF who attended the public consultation here for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) praised Marcos’ father for signing the Tripoli Agreement in 1976, the first peace deal that the MNLF signed with the Philippine government. The agreement laid the basis for the creation of two autonomous regional governments – one in Western Mindanao and another in Central Mindanao. 

In a crowd of about 500 at Sulu’s provincial gymnasium, at least 4 people called on the younger Marcos to run for president in 2016. 

The irony was not lost on observers. Sulu was the birthplace of the Moro rebellion against Marcos’ father.

Today, however, the MNLF is opposed to the peace deal signed by its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the Aquino government. The deal is now the basis of ongoing legislative efforts to pass the BBL.

MNLF leaders told Marcos, who is tasked to lead the Senate’s public consultations on the BBL, that they don’t want their communities to be part of the proposed Bangsamoro region. (READ: MNLF, sultans want out of Bangsamoro)

While the MNLF gave Marcos a warm welcome, however, the MILF reminded Marcos of the past.

Atone for father’s sins

In a strongly worded editorial published May 9 on its official website Luwaran, the MILF called on Marcos Jr to atone for the “sins of his father.”

The MILF wrote:

He should atone for the various sins of his father to this country, including the massacres of thousands of Moros in Mindanao; e.g., Malisbong Massacre in Palembang, Sultan Kudarat where a thousand were massacred, the Pata Island Massacre in Sulu where more than 2000 died, Patikul Massacre also in Sulu where 700 died, and many more. He can do this by supporting the passage of a good BBL in the Senate – not to use many precious days for hearings that are not extremely necessary or whose outcome can safely be predicted.

Asked to react to the MILF statement, Marcos quipped that if the MILF leaders want the BBL to pass, they should be “more conciliatory in the way they speak.” 

“Is that necessary? It’s not necessary. E kung mapikon ako, e kung anong gawin ko? Buti na lang hindi ako pikon, (If I get irritated, what if I end up doing something? It’s a good thing I’m not onion-skinned),” Marcos said. 

The senator, who heads the Senate committee on local government, said he does not take such comments personally.

“Never mind me, never mind legislators. It is the general public. The general public sees them as being completely unreasonable in terms of softening or changing their position. Just some expressions now of good faith that they’re trying then perhaps we can slowly regain the support of the public,” Marcos said.  

As the MILF prepares to enter mainstream politics, Marcos also advised the rebel group to learn the ways of the political world. 

“You have to bring everybody in. It is a political question. Politics is a game of addition, not substraction. You should befriend people, not quarrel with them, bring them closer to you,” Marcos said. 

Marcos said issues of the past were “unrelated” to current discussions. “We’re not here to talk about history. We’re here to talk about the BBL,” he said. – Rappler.com

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