KASAMA Vol. 16 No. 3 / July-August-September 2002 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network


DAVAO CITY - The Bangsamoro People's Consultative Assembly has renewed calls for a referendum to resolve the Mindanao problem without going to war.

Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, chairman of the Bangsamoro People's Consultative Assembly, said the "best option" to solve the "deep seated sentiment for freedom and independence" resulting in war and conflicts in Mindanao is through the conduct of a referendum. Speaking before participants of the Mindanao Tripeople's Caucus, Linga said the exercise would "give the Bangsamoro people the opportunity to make the final decision on their political status, not just their leaders."

Lingga said the peoples of the Bangsamoro homeland have been waging a war for "self-determination" but until now this has not been resolved and instead worsened with the conflicts resulting for want of independence. "To address the political issue of the problem without resorting to war is to give the Bangsamoro people a chance to choose their political status with respect to their relation to the Philippine government through a referendum. They should choose whether they want to remain part of the Philippines or to be free and independent," he added.

Lingga said the exercise will ensure conflict is averted, citing countries like Czechoslovakia, Quebec and East Timor where they conducted referenda to resolve internal conflicts. "Countries that refuse to use this internationally accepted democratic mechanism suffer the consequences of war."


Lingga said the exercise must be supervised by the United Nations "in order that the result will be acceptable to all parties. Common sense dictates that a party to a conflict, like the Philippine government, cannot be credible to conduct or supervise such political exercise." The Bangsamoro leader said the UN "is the best body to oversee the referendum to ensure that whatever will be the result will be respected by all parties."


Lingga said for decades now the Bangsamoro people have sought that right to self-determination. Citing the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights, all people, he said "have the right to self determination."

"By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development", he said. "In the exercise of that right, the peoples have wide latitude of choice. At one end, they can demand and pursue within the nation state more political power, active participation in the decision making and administration of government affairs, equitable redistribution of economic benefits, and appropriate ways of preserving and protecting their culture and way of life," he said. "Or they also have the right to organize their own sovereign and independent government," he said.


For decades when Bangsamoro leaders waged an armed struggle to pursue their right to self-determination, Lingga said, the Philippine government responded with "repressive reactions". The war, he said, caused the deaths of thousands, displacement of millions of people, and destruction of properties.

Instead of the military spending billions of pesos to wage the war, it could have used the money for basic infrastructures, food and other social services. "The military solution did not work and will not put an end to the Bangsamoro struggle. The colonial government may succeed in suppressing one generation of fighters, but a new generation will succeed them," Lingga said.

He said even the resulting autonomy granted to several provinces in Mindanao "failed to address the genuine desire" of the Bangsamoro people for freedom and independence.

"If we have to avoid war, this is the best political option," Lingga said. "The Philippine government and the Bangsamoro liberation fronts have to agree to a referendum if their leaders are indeed statesmen."

"Statesmanship of leaders is not measured on how bloody and how long they can suppress the people's right to self-determination but how they see through that they enjoy this fundamental human right," he said.




Casualties in the ongoing clash between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf has now reached 22 as "Oplan End Game" continues in Mount Bagsak, Patikul in Sulu, a military official here said. "This is a very big group that our forces have been confronting," Major General Glicerio Sua, chief of the Army's 1st Infantry Division said today. Of the 22 dead, eight are from the government side while 14 are from the Abu Sayyaf.

Meanwhile, at least 500 families or 2,000 individuals already fled their homes as the fighting continues today. Sulu Govenor Yusop Jikiri said the displaced families are now temporarily housed in evacuation centers in nearby towns of Patikul including Jolo, the province capital and the Sulu Crisis Committee was already mobilized to assist the evacuees on medicine and food.


Sua said more troops were sent to the hinterlands of Patikul to reinforce the soldiers deployed there. At least 5,000 troops are now deployed in Sulu to run after Abu Sayyaf members now numbering 150. "Oplan End Game" was launched by the military to rescue four hostages abducted last month. The Filipino troops including elite forces recently trained by US servicemen during the Balikatan 02﷓1 exercise held in Basilan, were deployed in the area to track down the bandit group. The fate of the hostages however are still not known as of presstime.

Meantime, Tolentino said the 150 bandits are said to be the combined forces of Basilan-based Abu leader Khadafy Janjalani and Sulu-based Abu leader Radulan Sahiron with Tahil Sali, the head of the Moro National Liberation Front Misuari Breakaway Group (MBG). The local government is currently formulating a contingency plan in case fighting will spill over to nearby towns in Patikul.

These articles are extracts from the originals published by

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