A holistic perspective on the Mindanao conflict

1. Holistic – all aspects, not just socio-cultural and political but also historical, economic, educational, religious, moral, ideological, legal, psychological, interpersonal, and yes, military.

1.1 In the case of the Mindanao Conflict, “all of the above” and more.

1.2  TJS George:  “The theories that run the gamut from religion to misgovernment were relevant only only in so far as they were all pieces of an enormously complex jigsaw.  To pick any one of them as the outstanding cause for the upheaval would be a hindrance to understanding the total picture.”

1.3 Not only multi-dimensional but also evolving, with different dimensions coming to the fore at different times.

2. Mindanao – a tri-people dynamic

2.1 Western-influenced Christian Filipino majority –  mainly Catholic migrant settlers of the 20th Century from Luzon and Visayas and their descendants; 12 million or 75% of population; majority in 18 out of 23 provinces

2.2 Moro (Muslim Filipino) minority –  13 ethno-linguistic groups which are mostly Islamized; 4 million or 20% of population; majority in 5 provinces and 11 municipalities (or a total of 72 municipalities)

2.3 Lumad (indigenous highlander tribes) minority –  18 or so ethno-linguistic groups which were not Islamized, are mostly Protestants; 2 million or 5 % of the population; majority  in 8 municipalities

2.4 Tri-People Approach – emphasizes the existence of the three peoples which have to share Mindanao, the ideal of their equality and unity, and Mindanao itself as the basis of a new or additional identity as Mindanaoan or Mindanawon.  But this should not negate Moro and Lumad identities, which are still struggling for better recognition.

3. Mindanao Problem (or Conflict) and Muslim/Moro Problem

3.1 Mindanao Problem – a problem of relationships among the three peoples there and with the central Philippine government, with the Moro Problem as its historically and currently most critical expression, its cutting edge or key link.  Note the vertical (Mindanao people to central government) and horizontal (people to people) dimensions of the problem.

3.2 Moro Problem –  the historical and systematic marginalization and minoritization of the Moros in their own homeland (Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan), first by colonial powers Spain, then the U.S., followed by successor Philippine “colonial” governments dominated by an elite with a Western-Christian orientation.

3.3 Patricio P. Diaz:  Muslim or Moro Problem concerns the socio-cultural and economic life of the Muslim or Moro people, especially their present state of underdevelopment..  Mindanao Problem concerns the socio-economic and political struggles of Muslim leaders among themselves and against intruders into their homeland starting with the Spaniards about 1600, followed by the Americans in 1900, and now with the “Imperial Manila” government and the dominant Christians.

3.4 Recognition of the broader Mindanao context is not incompatible with the necessary focus on the Muslim or Moro Problem to give it its just due, albeit informed by Mindanao’s tri-people character. Read full text (in .pdf, 7pp.).

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