Letters to the Editor

Will Noynoy Aquino be the hero of Muslims in Mindanao?

- Nurudin Lucman, Marawi City (Author, Moro Archives) -

My father is Sultan Haroun Rashid Lucman, a friend of P-Noy’s father, Ninoy. We rendered a testimonial for father on his 26th death anniversary last July 21 in the hope that the country will remember his legacy as someone who wanted government to recognize the rights of a people who lost their lands without their free will centuries back.

But I must say, P-Noy’s moves on the GRP-MILF Peace talks bode well in a nation with varied “aspirations” as he recognized in his recent policy statement. His appointment of former UP Law Dean Marvic Leonen as the GRP Panel chairman who is familiar with ancestral narratives recognizes a long history of the relationship of his father NINOY to the Bangsamoro minorities of the South.

Pres. Benigno Noynoy Aquino III may well be the solution to the festering problem in the South. His ascendancy as the newly-elected President of the Republic has reaffirmed the legacy of his late parents, Ninoy and Cory, that the Mindanao peace process be given full attention by the Philippine government.

His victory in Moro areas is phenomenal and yet explainable. Majority of Muslim voters nationwide chose Noynoy as their next president. Noynoy Aquino III won by a landslide vote in Lanao del Sur, home of traditional families, the Alontos and Lucmans, who were close to national government since the Commonwealth period.

Earlier on, the announcement of Sen. Benigno Noynoy Aquino III to run as candidate for president in the 2010 elections galvanized our families and Moro supporters to network with other political clans in Muslim Mindanao, Islamic communities in Luzon and Visayas to support and campaign for Noynoy saying he was the “last hope for peace in Mindanao, that the Aquino clan is the genuine partner for peace in the ARMM region.”

The links between the Aquinos and the Moros are real. Historically, the elite Lucmans were the founding Muslim members of the Liberal Party (LP).

In the past, Ninoy and the Bangsa Moro leaders (from different Muslim political clans in Mindanao i.e. the Matalams, Pendatuns, Masturas, Midtimbangs, Loongs, Abubacars, Tans, Kamlians, Lims, Alontos and Lucmans) agreed to pursue autonomy under the LP leadership of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. who was groomed by the opposition as the next President of the Philippine Republic.

Since 1935, the political fortunes of the Aquino and Alonto-Lucman slans had been intertwined in the turmoil of Philippine politics since the Commonwealth era. Sen. Alauya Adiong Alonto, Sultan sa Ramain, and Sec. Benigno Aquino Sr. had joined hands, under President Jose P. Laurel, in governing their respective regions to deflect Japanese atrocities in World War II against Filipino and Bangsa Moro civilians. After the war, the Alontos ruled the Ranao region (now Lanao del Sur and Norte, 1959) under different presidents to stabilize peace and order in Central Mindanao and under the Sultanates which include the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao, Kabuntalan and Buayaan. (Gen. Servillano Aquino and Datu Samporna, Sultan of Bayang fought the Spaniards and later, the Americans at the turn of the 20th century).

In 1967, this traditional political partnership was revived when Senators Benigno Aquino II, Gerardo Roxas, Sergio Osmeña, Congressmen Rashid Lucman, Salipada Pendatun and Gov. Udtog Matalam, denounced the Marcos regime for complicity in the Jabidah Massacre to cover up government conspiracy to create chaos and Christian-led rebellion in Sabah and annex part of North Borneo island to the Philippine republic. Previous to the Jabidah massacre, Ninoy and Rashid Lucman were staunch members of the political opposition under the Liberal Party, as Young Turks. They doggedly challenged the Marcos regime for corruption and wrong policies against the people especially the Bangsa Moro people in Mindanao.

This political alliance prompted Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. to exhort the Bangsa Moro people to fight for their rights and seek justice in a Islamic revolt against the Marcos regime. (Speech, JPI Quadrangle, Marawi City, 1967) He said: “We will give the Bangsa Moro people all the rights they deserve, but not secession.” He insisted that the “ Islam cannot be eradicated in Mindanao but Philippines is worth fighting and dying for.” Ninoy took the yellow color of the Royal Houses as a symbol of the struggle against dictatorship under the Marcos regime. (Cong. Rashid Lucman, Waldorf-Asturia, NYC 1980)

After the exposé of the 1968 Jabidah Massacre, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman offered an invitation to Cong. Rashid Lucman, Sultan sa Bayang, to send young Bangsa Moro men to train in guerilla warfare under the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces and the Gurkha Regiment based in a remote island off the Malaysian peninsula. Nur Misuari was one of the 90 young men (Top 90) recruited by Cong. Rashid Lucman to train in Malaysia. This development put Rashid Lucman as the Father of the Bangsa Moro Revolution in Mindanao and Sulu. He organized and trained about 30,000 Bangsa Moro guerillas (supervised by Top 90) that saw action against the Marcos regime in the ’70s and ’80s as MNLF and later, MILF mujahideen. Nur Misuari claimed to be the leader of the Bangsa Moro people in 1974 in complicity with his Libyan backers. The Bangsa Moro revolt raged from 1970 up to this time in a No Peace, No War stand-off.

Martial Law was declared in 1972 and Ninoy Aquino was jailed and incarcerated for seven years. US President Ronald Reagan pressured Marcos to allow Ninoy to leave the country for medical attention in Houston (USA) in 1980. Cong. Rashid Lucman went on political exile in Saudi Arabia in 1974. He reunited with Ninoy Aquino in 1980 and promptly organized the United Opposition in the United States. A Covenant of Unity was signed by opposition leaders in the US and the Philippines calling for the end of Marcos dictatorship.

This position was reinforced in 1981 when HRH King Khaled ibn Abdul Aziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia assured Sen. Ninoy Aquino and Sultan Rashid Lucman, in the presence of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz (now Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), Sheikh Saleh Jamjoom, Sen. Ernesto Maceda and Kiyoshi Wakamiya, that Saudi Arabia will fully support Ninoy in his quest to solve the Muslim problem in Mindanao once he becomes the President of the Philippines.

The assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 and the death of Sultan Rashid Lucman (VP-Ninoy Aquino Movement, USA ) in Saudi Arabia in 1984 did not deter the Aquinos and the Alonto-Lucmans from continuing the legacy of their departed leaders. They fought on in 1983 against Martial Law under the Marcos Regime. The Alonto-Lucman clan, carrying the colors of the UNIDO (United Democratic Opposition) mobilized the Bangsa Moro to support Cory Aquino’s challenge against Marcos in the 1986 Snap Election.

In 1986, the Alonto-Lucman clan sent fully armed BMLO-BMCC (MNLF-MILF) guerilla units to Metro Manila to reinforce Cory Aquino who called for People Power Revolt against the Marcos regime who orchestrated his proclamation as a result of a massive vote-rigging in his favor. Nur Misuari instructed the MNLF not to help in the People Power Revolt. Most of the MNLF field commanders on Lanao del Sur disobeyed him. Marcos was overthrown and Cory Aquino became president.

The Maranao traditional clans have consistently supported the need to pacify the island with the goodwill of the MILF, the Royal Houses and all major political clans. They helped in quelling Pres. Estrada’s all-out war policy against the MILF and later, against GMA’s punitive attacks against MILF and Muslim civilians in Buliok Complex in Maguindanao province.

The clans continued their leadership in Moro areas by pacifying vendettas and bridging Manila and ARMM. The current governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong promises good governance after the grisly Ampatuan town massacre that has put ARMM in a bad light again.

P-Noy will continue to need the traditional families in addressing the unique tapestry of conflict and culture in Mindanao. As the national bureaucracy takes on a new paradigm of pro-people centered governance, we hope Muslim communities nationwide and abroad, who eagerly await the resolution of the peace process, do not get disappointed and see a new day ahead.­












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