THE HISTORY OF CONFLICT IN MINDANAO
Mindanao, is the southern part of the archipelago the Philippines predominanaly muslim a country has been fighting over four hundred years to establish a self ruled and independent state from Spanish colonialism later from the new American colony of the Philippines. Despite the various effort to unified and rule the region, armed resistance by various Muslim Filipino groups continue to break out periodically throughout American colonial rule and continued after the Philippines became an independent nation on 4 July 1946.
In March 1960s, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was formed by Nur Misuari, Sulu based Tausug tribe and armed rebellion arises in Mindanao with the desires to establish independent state, of Bangsamoro of Muslim Mindanao. In 1976, the Tripoli Agreement was signed in Libya between the Government of Philippine and the MNLF which provided the political autonomy for the thirteen provinces of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.
The failure to practice meaningful autonomy led to divisions within the MNLF, where disagreements between leaders of different ethno-linguistic and political factions caused, Hashim Salamat, with a strong support of Maguindanao-Iranun followers, established the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF in 1977. Finally in 1996, the MNLF-GRP 1996 Final Peace Agreement was signed by Ambassador Manual Tan (GRP), Nur Misuari (MNLF Chairman), and Ali Alatas (Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and Chairman of the OIC). In early 2000, Moro Islamic Liberation Forces’ continous fighting in North Cotabato and Maguindanao led President Joseph Estrada to declared all out war against MILF which caused hundreds of thousands of displaced people and thousands of deaths. The MILF continued relentlessly pursuing for Bangsamoro self-determination through armed conflict and later engaged in a peace talk in 1997 between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and MILF leader, Ebrahim Murad and invited PM Mahathir for Malaysia to facilitate peace process in Mindanao. This led to the formation of International Monitoring Team in October 10, 2004. Through rigorous peace negotiations, the Government of Philippines and MILF historically sealed the FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT on BANGSAMORO on 15 Oct 2012 in Manila. This monumental achievement hopefully will pave the journey of everlasting peace in Mindanao.
IMT BACKGROUND HISTORY
International Monitoring Team (IMT) involvement in Mindanao peace process started when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sought the assistance from the government of Malaysia to facilitate in resuming the stalled Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiations. This negotiation had started in January 1997 but was stalled in the year 2000 after government forces launched an all-out war against the MILF. Kuala Lumpur responded positively to Manila’s request as facilitator of the peace talk and later deployed the IMT to Mindanao in 2004 to support the smooth going of the negotiations.
Since then, several contingents consist of military and Civil Service officers of Malaysia, Brunei, Libyan (withdrawn from IMT in 2011), Japanese, European Union and Norway, Indonesia (joint IMT in 2012) were deployed to Mindanao. However, in 2008, IMT involvement was scaled down when Malaysia’s contingent withdrawn from the mission due to the failure of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The Malaysian’s contingent resume backs the mission in 2010 until to date. Basically, the main role of IMT mission in Mindanao is to monitor the implementation of the cessation ofhostilities between both parties and to pursue constructive engagement to encourage, promote and maintain a secure environment in mission areas. In carrying out these mandates, IMT has been organized into four components namely Security Component, Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Component, Socio Economic Assistance Component and Civilian Protection Component. IMT’s roles and responsibilities further enhance by deploying five Team Sites across Mindanoa, namely the IMT HQ and Team Site 1 are in Cotabato City. Team Site 2 in Illigan City, Team Site 3 in Zamboanga City and Team Site 4 in General Santos City and Team Site 5 is in Davao City.