Santa Barbara, Philippines

The beaches of Santa Barbara are being pounded by air strikes, mortars, and artillery.

This is the result of decades of frustration and recent unwise decisions by Zamboanga’s mayor. As were Davao City and General Santos City, Zamboanga City had been asked to permit a peaceful demonstration to protest the government’s failure to act upon a peace agreement it had signed. The two cities that permitted the protests had peaceful demonstrations while Zamboanga refused to permit a protest and got an armed insurrection!

Nur Misuari has worked for an independent homeland for Mindanao’s Muslim population for more than 40 years. In 1996 the government signed an agreement with him and his MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front).

Instead of implementing it as agreed upon, the Philippine government began negotiating with another group, the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). There is evidence that the government donated money to form the MILF.

The government claims it is studying the 1996 agreement, but it has been seven years since it was signed, and a new president has decided to negotiate with the group it had helped create. Frustrating indeed!!

Both sides have made mistakes! The government has seemingly not kept its agreement while the MNLF needs to somehow unite Moro groups under one agenda. Admittedly this is a challenge if, indeed, the government is behind the MILF. The MNLF’s greatest mistake, though, is its taking of civilian hostages as human shields, a war crime.

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