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Moro

Philippines socialists call for negotiated settlement to Spratly Islands dispute

For more background to the Spratly Islands issue, see "China, Vietnam and the islands dispute: What is behind the rise of Chinese nationalism?"

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June 10, 2011 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines) condemns any actions that increase military tensions in the region and contribute to a regional military conflict, by countries that lay claim to the Spratly Islands. We are opposed to any sabre-rattling and stand for a negotiated, political settlement of the disputed claims to the area. Therefore we deplore China’s strong-arm tactics and bullying, which undermines efforts towards a peaceful, political settlement, of the disputed claims.

The Spratly Islands, less than four-square kilometres of land area spread over 425,000 square kilometres of sea and usually submerged, probably have strategic importance fuelling the numerous territorial disputes. The area holds significant reserves of oil and natural gas: reportedly some 17.7 billion tons of oil and natural gas reserves, larger than the 13 billion tons held by Kuwait, thus making it the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. In an energy hungry world, these reserves intensify the disputed claims over the area.

Philippines: Interview with Moro liberation movement leader

Ghazali Jaafar (left). Photo by Jolly Lais.

Ghazali Jaafar, vice-chairperson for political affairs of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), interviewed by Tony Iltis in Barangay Simuay, Maguindanao province

Introduction by Tony Iltis

April 10, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The Moro people of the Philippines’ southern Mindanao Islands have never considered themselves Filipinos. The Spanish colonisers never succeeded in subjugating the Moro sultanates. However, when Spain ceded the Philippines to the US in 1898, the Moro homeland, Bangsamoro, was included.

In the ensuing war, which lasted until 1913, 20,000 Moros — fighters and civilians — were killed. The US set about integrating Bangsamoro to the Philippines through land ownership laws that delegitimised the communal land tenure systems of the Muslim Moro tribes and the non-Muslim indigenous tribes (sometimes called Lumads).

The Moro question

By Sonny Melencio

As Marxists, we support the right to self-determination of oppressed nations. This right applies to the democratic demand of the oppressed nation to determine its political relationship to the oppressor nation, which includes its right to secede and form a separate state.

It is in this sense that we uphold the right of the Moro people to self-determination.

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