The Bangsamoro

The term Bangsamoro refers to a people who are natives or original inhabitants of the island of Mindanao and its adjacent islands in the Philippines, including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization. It comes from the Malay word bangsa, meaning nation or people, and the Spanish word moro, from the Spanish word for Moor, the Reconquista-period term used for Muslims. These include, among other tribes, the Maguindanaoan, the Maranao and Tausug who constitute the major tribes of the Moro people.

Bangsamoro covers the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay; and the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga. Other interpretations may include territories that used to form North Borneo including Sabah, Labuan and the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan, these areas are currently under the Sabah dispute.

Bangsangmoro has originally evolved from the Spanish colonialist as early as 1570 when they saw the Muslims in the Philippines practiced Islam much in the same way their arch enemises- Moors of Spain and called the local Muslims as Moro. Around 1970, Sultan Rashid Lucman and the Blackshirts belonging to the Top 90 adopted to name their organizations respectively as Banga Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), later MILF adopted it too in 1978.

Moro student activists in 1984, despite opposition of Islamists because of its origin from Spanish colonists bravely employed its use in their organizations and writings. The use of Bangsamoro was a combination of Moro and Nation (Bangsa). It connoted the solidarity of the people as a nation. It rekindled the spirit to seek nationhood and statehood and struggle to establish an independent Islamic state in this area in which Sharia is enacted. According to Hashim Salamat the Moro people comprise by the Maguindanaoan, the Maranao and Tausug. In January 1987, the MNLF accepted the government’s offer of semi-autonomy of the regions in dispute, subsequently leading to the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The MILF, however, continued their insurgency operations.

A general cessation of hostilities between the government and the MILF was signed in July 1997 but this agreement was abolished in 2000 by the Philippine Army under the rule of Philippine President Joseph Estrada. In response, the MILF declared a jihad against the gov’t,, its citizens and supporters. Under Pres. Arroyo, the government entered into a ceasefire agreement with the MILF and resumed peace talks. In 2010 Pres. Aquino resumed the 6th Peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government in the formation of the “Bangsamoro” or Moro homeland.

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