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Strategies and Tactics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines

SHAMSUDDIN L. TAYA is Professor of Political Science at the Development Academy of the Bangsamoro (DAB).

Penerbit UUM (First Printing, 2009)
124 pages including Bibliography and Index

RM39.00

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Strategies and Tactics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines examines and analyzes the strategies and tactics of the MILF during 1994-2005 using the Organizational Approach. It looks at the political, military and economic strategies and tactics of the MILF in its quest to liberate the Bangsamoro homeland and its people from the clutches of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and its agents. The data for this analysis come from primary and secondary sources, namely newspapers, policy statements, speeches, press releases, joint communiqué, peace agreements, books, magazines, and journals. Interviews with informed people were also conducted.

The study found that the strategies and tactics of the MILF in its quest for freedom and self-determination of the Bangsamoro homeland and its people were effective and workable. The MILF as a splinter liberation movement had emerged as the dominant independence movement in the Southern Philippines. The strategies and tactics of the organization have not only guaranteed its survival, but they even led to its emergence as the most dominant and powerful liberation movement in the region. The MILF is now considered as a power to be reckoned with not only by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) but also by both regional and international actors.

The Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination started during the period of Spanish colonialism and has continued up to the present. However, the Bangsamoro independence movements became better organized from the American period (1898-1946) and the Christian-Filipino era (1946 up to the present). The Jabidah Massacre in 1968, the Manili Massacre in 1971 and the Malisbong (Palimbang) Massacre in 1972 during President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ time sparked resentment against the Philippine government.

The Jabidah Massacre, in fact, led to the founding of the Bangsamoro movements for self-determination such as the Mindanao Independence Movement in 1968 (MIM) led by Datu Udtog Matalam, a former governor of the Cotabato Empire. This was followed by the creation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by Salamat Hashim, and others.

The MNLF as a movement for Bangsamoro self-determination survived for decades. It, however, succumbed to pressures from its foreign supporters (the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and more specifically the Libyan and Saudi Arabian governments) and the GRP. As a result, the two GRP-MNLF’s Peace Agreements were signed: the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement (Libya) and the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreement (Indonesia). The 1976 Tripoli Agreement had sparked internal divisions among the MNLF top ranks and one division moved out and established the New MNLF (Founded by Salamat Hashim who passed away in 2003).

Now the MILF is led by Murad Ebrahim. With the incorporation of the MNLF into the mainstream of the Philippine-body politic and eventually, the imprisonment of its leader, Nur Misuari, the MILF has emerged as the only revolutionary organization. Currently, the GRP is pursuing its peace efforts with the MILF. Indeed, both parties (the GRP and the MILF) signed confidence-building measures in Libya and Malaysia, in 2001 and 2002 respectively. The MILF is pursuing its objective of total independence while the GRP is willing to compromise stopping short of independence. Both parties have hardened their positions in the past, but in recent exploratory talks (2004) held in Malaysia, there were accommodation and gestures of friendship on the part of both negotiating parties (the GRP and MILF).

Aside from the MNLF, and MILF, the Abu Sayyaf Group or the ASG (founded and led by the late Janjalani Abdul Rajak- now, led by his brother Khadafy Janjalani) is another Bangsamoro independence movement, which is demanding an independent Bangsamoro state. The GRP claims that this group (ASG) is a small, but radical and violent group. In November 1992, a daily newspaper in Zamboanga city carried a brief item about the issue of the ASG as a terrorist group. Since then, the group has been considered as a threat to the security of the country according to the GRP.

Bangsamoro factionalism, compounded by declining foreign support and general war weariness, has hurt the Bangsamoro Islamic and nationalist movements both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. The GRP continues to struggle with Bangsamoro insurgencies, in general, and the MILF, in particular, in the Southern Philippines. The MILF is pursuing its objective of total independence and the GRP is willing to compromise stopping short of independence.

List of Figure
List of Abbreviations
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgement

CHAPTER ONE: THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE CONFLICT IN THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES

CHAPTER TWO: THE MILF ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES, GOALS, CAPABILITIES AND CONSTRAINTS
Organizational Structures
Organizational Goals
— Regaining the Lost Freedom and Self-Determination
— Establishment of an Islamic State and Government
— Making Supreme the Word of Allah
Organizational Capabilities
— Strengthening of the Organization
— Self-Reliance Program
— Military Build-Up
Organizational Constraints
— Tribalism
— Financial Constraint
— Terrorism

CHAPTER THREE: THE POLITICAL STRATEGIES PURSUED BY THE MILF OVER TIME
Strengthening of Organization
Diplomatic Offensive
The Future of Peace

CHAPTER FOUR: THE MILITARY STRATEGIES AND TACTICS ADOPTED BY THE MILF OVER TIME
Guerrilla Warfare
Semi-conventional Warfare
Fight-Negotiate-Fight-Negotiate Strategy

CHAPTER FIVE: THE ECONOMIC STRATEGIES PURSUED BY THE MILF OVER TIME
Self-reliance
Farming
Small Business Enterprises
Effectiveness of Self-reliance Program

CHAPTER SIX: SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS

Bibliography
Index

Weight 0.188 kg
Dimensions 21.1 × 16.1 × 0.7 cm
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