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Bangsamoro Right to


Abhoud Syed M. Lingga

Executive Director
Institute of Bangsamoro Studies

October 29, 2005

Secession theories

 Consensual secession

 Unilateral secession

Consensual secession

 Result of either negotiated agreement

between the state and the secessionist
movement or through constitutional
 Constitutionally sanctioned secession is
achieved either by exercise of an explicit
constitutional right to secede or by
constitutional amendments.

Unilateral secession

 Primary Right Theories

– Ascriptivist theories – groups possessing

ascriptive characteristics have unilateral right to

– Plebiscitary theories – majority residing in a

portion of a state have the right to choose to have
their own state.

Unilateral secession

 Remedial Right Theories

– Right to reclaim territory over which a group were
sovereign but which was unjustly taken from them

– A group has the right to claim sovereignty over a

territory as a result of availing themselves of a last
resort remedy against serious and persistent
violations of human rights.

Who are the Bangsamoro

The Muslims who traditionally inhabited

Mindanao, the islands of Basilan and
Palawan, and Sulu archipelago call
themselves Bangsamoro. They are the
Iranun, Magindanaon, Maranao, Tao-Sug,
Sama, Yakan, Jama Mapun, Ka'agan,
Kalibugan, Sangil, Molbog, Palawani and

Bangsamoro Homeland (1)

The traditional homeland of the Bangsamoro

people were the territories under the
jurisdiction of their governments before the
emergence of the Philippine Republic. At the
height of its power, the Sulu Sultanate
exercised sovereignty over the present day
provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan,
Basilan and the Malaysian state of Sabah
(North Borneo).

Bangsamoro Homeland (2)

The territory of the Magindanaw Sultanate included

Maguindanao province, the coastal areas of the
provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato,
Sarangani, parts of Lanao provinces, Davao del Sur
and Davao Oriental, and the eastern part of
Zamboanga del Sur. The Datu Dakula of Sibugay,
who ruled the Sibugay autonomous region under the
Magindanaw Sultanate, exercised jurisdiction over
Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay,
Zamboanga City and the western part of Zamboanga
del Sur.

Bangsamoro Homeland (3)

The Rajah of Buayan ruled North Cotabato, the upper

valley of Maguindanao and the interior areas of
Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato and some parts
of Bukidnon. The Pat a Pangampong ko Ranao
(confederation of the four lake-based emirates) ruled
the interior parts of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte,
and parts of Bukidnon, Agusan, and eastern and
western Misamis provinces. The small sultanate of
Kabuntalan separates the domains of Magindanaw
and Buayan.

Bangsamoro Homeland (4)

Today, the Bangsamoro people are confined in the

provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur
and Maguindanao, and some municipalities of
Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay,
Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, North
Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato,
Sarangani, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao
del Norte, Compostela Valley and Palawan.

Struggle for Self-determination

 The struggle of the Bangsamoro people is a

struggle for their right to self-determination.
 Self-determination means the right of peoples
to determine their political status
 The bases of this struggle are their historical
right as free and independent nation before
the formation of the Philippine state, and their
“unpleasant” experiences under the Philippine
Bases of Bangsamoro Struggle for

 Their historical right as free and independent

nation before the formation of the Philippine

 Their unpleasant experiences under the

Philippine republic

Historical Experience (1)

Before the arrival of the Spanish colonialists

the Bangsamoro were already in the process
of state formation, while Luzon and the
Visayas were still in the barangay stage of
political development.

Historical Experience (2)
 They had developed well-organized
administrative and political systems; and
 Organized strong maritime and infantry
forces that defended the Bangsamoro
territories from Western colonial intrusion,
thus preserving the continuity of their

Historical Experience (3)

 Resistance continued even during the American

occupation. Although the sultanate-sponsored
resistance were not as fierce as during the Spanish-
Moro wars, but group-organized and individual
resistance (prang sabil – martyrdom seeking
operations) continued.
 These compelled the U.S. to govern the Moro
territories separate from the Philippine Islands.

Historical Experience (4)

When the U.S. planned to grant independence to the

Philippines, Bangsamoro leaders petitioned the U.S.
government that the Bangsamoro territories should
not be included in the would-be Philippine Republic.

– June 9, 1921- petition of the people of Sulu

– February 1, 1924 - Declaration of Rights and
Purposes (Zamboanga declaration)
– March 18, 1935 - Dansalan Declaration

Historical Experience (5)

When their territories were made part of the

Philippine Republic in 1946, the Bangsamoro
people continue to assert their right to

– Amilbangsa Bill (H.B. 5682)

– MIM Manifesto
– Organization of the MNLF and MILF

Experiences Under the Philippines

Under the Philippine Republic, which they

perceive as successor-in-interest of the
colonial powers, there is strong feeling
of political and social “uneasiness”. This
uncomfortable feeling is reinforced by
their “not-so-nice” experiences.

Under the Philippine Republic (2)

 These experiences are:

a. Strong biases and prejudices of the majority
against Muslims
A recent study among Muslim and Christian youth in Mindanao
91% of the Christian respondents showed strong biases and
prejudices against Muslims than Muslims had for Christians.
90% of Muslim respondents were willing to accept Christians
as associates or to work, live together, while 87% of the
Christians were not.

Under the Philippine Republic (3)

b. They lost their lands

The government failed to protect the
interest of the Bangsamoro people
over their lands. Worst still,
government development programs
are among the reasons why they lost
their lands to migrants from the north.

Under the Philippine Republic (4)

c. They become minority in their

own homeland
In 1918, the Muslims were dominant
in Mindanao but government
settlement and development
programs reduced them, together
with the IPs, minority in their
Under the Philippine Republic (5)

d. They remain poor

Muslim areas continue to suffer the highest
poverty incidence.
Between 1991-1997, there was reduction in
poverty incidence in many parts of the
country but in predominantly Muslim areas
poverty incidence increased.

Under the Philippine Republic (6)

e. They feel not secured

Reported massacres of Muslims remain unsolved until now

– e.g., massacres in Manili, Tacub, Malisbung, Pata island.

Reported bombings of mosques remain unsolved.

A senior police superintendent was quoted (see Manila Times

website, 11/19/03) to have said: “We are at war with Islam,
and the Muslims are the aggressors. Nobody wants to
recognize that, but that’s what’s happening.”

 With these experiences, the Bangsamoro people
believe that the only solution to their problem is to
regain back their freedom and independence.
 The problems on poverty, neglect,
underdevelopment and other social inequities can be
addressed effectively once the Bangsamoro regain
their independence.

Article 39

“Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination,
including the right to secession.”

“The right to self-determination, including secession of every Nation, Nationality and People shall
come into effect:
When a demand for secession has been approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of the
Legislative Council of the Nation, Nationality or People concerned;
When the Federal Government has organized a referendum which must take place within three
years from the time it received the concerned council’s decision for secession;
When the demand for secession is supported by majority vote in the referendum;
When the Federal Government will have transferred its powers to the council of the Nation,
Nationality or People who has voted to secede; and
When the division of assets is effected in a manner prescribed by law.
A "Nation, Nationality or People" for the purpose of this Constitution, is a group of people who
have or share a large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility
of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and
who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory.”