Human Rights

Stoking the fire of civil war

It is a story much delayed. Two weeks delayed, in fact. Moro groups like Suara Bangsamoro were receiving reports of a resurgence of vigilanteism even before the Supreme Court released a TRO on the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. During the first weeks of July, civilian Moros in North Cotabato were mysteriously attacked. Upon the release of the TRO it was the Piñol politicos who openly called on civilians — mostly Christians — to arm themselves against the MILF and the Moros, purportedly to protect their land that, the Piñols say, were in danger of being taken away by the Moros through the MOA. It was the Piñols, Suara Bangsamoro says, who since 2004 were quietly arming peasant Christians and Lumads, agitating them against the Moros. All the while, the group says, it was the same political family lording it over even vaster tracts of land through their pet projects PALMA Complex and ARAKAN Valley Complex, palm, rubber and fruit plantations with heavy foreign investments.

Now comes this story from the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the resurgence of vigilante groups like the Ilaga in Mindanao. Now the Piñols claim to oppose some local politicos’ use of vigilantes. Given the Ilaga’s much publicized notoriety — Norberto Manero, who was convicted of killing Italian priest Tullio Favali but was accused of doing much more, used to head the vigilante group — the Piñols were quick to dissociate themselves from them. But as the PDI story itself implies, this political family does not exactly condemn vigilanteism.

Pinoy Weekly anticipated the PDI story on the rise of vigilanteism in Moro lands, touching on the Piñols’ use of vigilantes in stoking the fires of anti-Moro sentiments among Christians and Lumads:

This week’s Pinoy Weekly main story, meanwhile, focused on the accountability of the state forces, especially the military, in the atrocities of August 18, 2008 in Mindanao, even it does not deny the MILF’s possible culpability in the attacks. The secessionist group even makes a bold proposal — albeit almost unmentioned in mainstream coverage that focused on the gore — that if heeded could very well bring back the secessionist group to the negotiating table. MILF claims it is open to an “impartial investigation” as it logically insists that its forces like Bravo and Kato cannot be the subject to arrest of the other party as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement.

Here is the story:


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