The Moro Resistansce and Liberation Organization (MRLO) vigorously condemned the recently enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law, otherwise known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM).
The group said that OLBARMM is being used as an instrument by the US-Duterte regime to crush the Moro people’s struggle even as the majority suffer from poverty and injustice. Rodrigo Duterte signed the said law on July, after it was railroaded in congress and senate on May.
Hunger and poverty is pervasive in the Moro areas and is bound to intensify under the soon-to-be-established Bangsamoro, added the MRLO. The OLBARMM has no provisions for the implementation of genuine agrarian reform, a major issue faced by the Moro people. Instead of implementing land reform, the Bangsamoro government itself is tasked to create policies that will further open their ancestral lands to foreign plunder.
This has been proven true in past years under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The regional government boasts of developing the local economy purportedly through allowing nickel ore mining, quarrying, biomass renewable energy and palm oil plantation operations. Despite jobs generated by the said investments, poverty incidence in the region worsened. Statistics indicate that almost 60% of the regional population of about four million are considered poor.
Using the ruling Moro elites, the OLBARMM aims to peddle the wealth and resources of the region to foreign corporations. In fact, the reactionary government has already awarded billions-worth of oil concession in Liguasan Marsh to the Malaysian Gas Petronas – a US corporation based in Malaysia, and the Lake Lanao to multinational corporations and local compradors including Manny Pangilinan. UNIFRUITTI, Dole, Del Monte, La Frutera, Nestle, Mount Kalatungan Agri Ventures Inc., and mining companies are expected to expand their encroachment and plantations in Maguindanao, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Lanao Del Sur.
“We are not surprised by the decision of some MILF leaders to abandon the armed struggle as many of them are now among the Moro ruling elites who own vast lands of banana and oil palm plantations in Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, Datu Odin Sinsuat and Upi in Maguindanao. Some own malls, hotels and restaurants in Cotabato and Davao City,” said Ka Jihad Al-Qursi, spokesperson of MRLO.
“They are quick to lay down their arms because they themselves will greatly benefit from OLBARMM while majority of the Moro people live in dire poverty.”
MRLO added that even during peace negotiations between the MILF and the reactionary government, military operations against the Moro people continued unabated. Under the guise of the war against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an MILF break-away faction, the Liguasan Marsh was relentlessly bombed during the Ramadan this year. About 20,000 families evacuated due to this.
Duterte also pulverized Marawi City which resulted in the evacuation of 323,000 individuals, destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the deaths of thousands of civilians. While the ‘negotiations’ between the MILF and Duterte regime are ongoing, 30 military battalions were deployed in ARMM to crush Moro armed groups including the BIFF, MNLF and MILF. Armed clashes in Moro communities continue.
According to Al Qursi, the Moro people have no reason to celebrate the approval of the OLBARMM. The law does not address the Moro’s clamor for self-determination and justice, and their right to control their ancestral lands and territory. OLBARMM fails to recognize their aspiration to till lands they can own, end discrimination against the Moro people, and to be free from the oppressive reactionary US-Duterte regime.
Instead of serving justice, the Duterte and the Moro elites are determined to displace the Moro people by hook or by crook. Hunger and poverty will worsen. Thousands of Moros will be left with no choice but to sell their labor power cheaply so they can feed their families, while big corporations amass profit.
“We call on the Moro people to continue the armed struggle amid the provisions of the OLBARMM on the decomissioning (laying down of arms) of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). The MRLO believes that this is a mere tactic of the regime to render the Moro communities defenseless against state forces and multinational corporations which seek to plunder the Moro lands and resources,” said Al Qursi. The BIAF is the standing army of the MILF.
The group also called on their fellow Moro to join the New People’s Army, the true army of the Filipino people and the Bangsamoro. MRLO also expressed openness to work with the MILF, BIFF and other Moro organizations to advance the armed struggle until the achievement of complete liberation from US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The Moro people will be fighting alongside the Filipino people to achieve national democracy.
“History has taught us that self-determination and independence will not be attained through peace agreements with the reactionary state. Only through armed resistance can the Moro people achieve genuine justice and freedom,” said Al Qursi.