RADICALISM in Mindanao has long been a growing yet unnoticed problem by the national government, according to lawyer Antonio La Viña.
"The MILF has been telling this to us for years, that young Moros are being radicalized and that time is running out," said La Viña, who is now the concurrent dean of the Ateneo School of Government, in his speech delivered here last June 27 at the Xavier University campus.
In a forum entitled "In the Shadow of the Dragon: Philippine Independence and the Rise of China Perspectives from Mindanao In light of Marawi," La Viña stressed that the ongoing clash in Marawi city is not the only problem that we meet today.
Walking through his point, La Viña cited some significant historical events that has led to the violent uprising by the radicalists in Mindanao.
He clarified that the problem with the Moros did not start with the Americans discriminating them below the people of Luzon, as is the common misconception.
He said this problem basically rooted from the broken promises that the national government has been giving out to the displaced Moro and Lumad tribes since the 1960s.
"The Americans treated with equal respect the Moro elites like how they treated the Tagalog elites or the Bisaya elites. It was only with the land crisis in the 60s when the people of Luzon started settling in Mindanao, displacing the Moros and the Lumads with the agrarian programs of the government," La Viña said.
Thus, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held rebellions against the government.
La Viña said the various negotiations between the government and these groups ended up as unresolved, such as the Tripoli agreement which could have granted 13 favors to the Filipino Moros but were all ultimately slashed out by Former President Ferdinand Marcos before it could have been implemented.
"The history of negotiations with the Moros and the Lumads are all of betrayal. We always agree on something but we do not implement it. We overpromise them. And if we overpromise, then this is our fault. When it is time to implement it, we always have our excuses such as that we have to 'do it in accordance with the constitutional process' like that of the Tripoli agreement," he said.
La Viña further said the unfulfilled promises then led to a long history of resentment against the Philippine government leading to the present clash of the army troops to reclaim Marawi city from the Maute group.
"From the Abu Sayyaf to the Maute group, we see a parallel to the jihadism of the Al Qaeda. Now when you are talking to the MNLF you are only fighting for political power or autonomy or shared power. However, it is different with these people, the ones who took siege of Marawi city, it is more than that and it will be long before they will leave that city," La Viña said.
For his parting shot, La Viña said that various drug trades, Rido clashes, and crime incidences in Marawi city should not be confused entirely with the siege of the city.
Unfortunately at this point, he said, it will not be over soon and that military solution alone will not be able to solve this problem.