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The Official Publication of the Moro Human Rights Center Inc.


Cover Story:
More of the Same

by Erwin Francis Gaerlan

The Many Facets of Conflict Resolution
by Sophia Dimalog

by Erwin M. Gaerlan

The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights

A Human Rights Framework For the Moro Struggle
by Cris M.Gaerlan, Jr.

Signs of Peace
by Sahara (Samira Gutoc)

by Faith Joan C. Mesa

News Bits
IMAN binuo ng mga estudyante
Moro Civilians Abducted by Military
- Jamal Matanog


Economics of War

2001 MORO HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT: More of the Same
by Erwin Francis Gaerlan

On racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination

The Muslims in the Philippines are a minority nationalities comprising 13 ethno-linguistic groupings. They have their own religion, which is Islam, a distinct culture, language, customs, traditions and even traditional forms of governance. They are peoples historically different and distinct from the majority peoples of the Philippines. Politically they are collectively known as the Moro people.

Historical circumstances in the development of the Philippines as a modern nation-state paved the way in creating a virtual division between nationalities in a majority-minority relation. As such, the Moro people, experienced various forms of discrimination from the majority nationalities. To the extent that this has been institutionalized by the government.

Sadly, the war waged against the Moro insurgents during the Estrada and Arroyo administrations was portrayed as some sort of a Christian crusade against Muslim terrorists, lumping all Muslims into this category. Ironically, as a result of this campaign, the President’s dwindling popularity rating soared. The state of lawlessness enjoyed popular support among the majority Christian population. All Muslims where subjected to discriminatory acts, harassment and maltreatment.

The local government of Quezon City imposed upon a Muslim community in Baranggay Culiat, Tandang Sora the implementation of an ID system. All residents of the said community were required to wear a special identification card. In Basilan, all Moro residents were required to have a CEDULA or residence certificate. Failure to comply will result with a terrorist label. Other cities within the metropolis, like Pasig City and in Quiapo, Manila followed. Amidst massive protests questioning the illegality of such act, the local governments insist that the implementation of the ID system is only a precautionary measure in curbing the encroachment of Muslim terrorists into these communities.

Muslim communities in other areas of the Philippines where forced to enter into signing Memorandum of Agreements with their local governments stating that they are not terrorists and would help in the government’s efforts to crush “Muslim terrorism”.

In areas, which suffered military operations, houses of Muslims were pasted with Philippine flags to signify that they are not supporters of Moro insurgents. Failure would automatically mean that the owner of the house is a supporter of the insurgents and can be subjected to harassment.

In Basilan province, abandoned houses of Moro civilians were painted with crosses by soldiers of the government.

Muslim community leaders and student activists and even the peoples’ organizations and non-governmental organizations who were active in the peace campaign where also subjected to harassment by black listing. Identified Muslim community leaders actively participating in campaigns against the government’s where forced to report to the Police to be interrogated and were warned to stop participating in any activities in the campaign for peace. Worst, some of them were threatened with expulsion or arrest.

The media also became instruments in purveying xenophobic hysteria against the Muslims. The term “Muslim” was deliberately and derogatorily used in media as synonymous to “terrorists”. The Muslims became the automatic suspects and fall guys in all the bombing incidents that happened in the metropolis.

During the war, government soldiers never failed to give religious flavors in the conduct of military offensives in supposed bailiwicks of the Moro insurgents. Desecration of Mosques became a common occurrence during military operations. A number of Mosques where desecrated, destroyed and even converted as military barracks or outposts. A glaring evidence of this religious irreverence appeared in the front page of a national newspaper where a picture of two government soldiers displaying the Philippine flag atop a destroyed mosque.

Next: On Civil and Political rights