PHILIPPINES: An appeal by the Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement

In the name of peace, for the sake of humanity and in behalf of the innocent civilians who are again bearing the brunt of violence and atrocities, I am appealing to Chairman Nur Misuari and all my brothers in the Moro National Liberation Front to release the hostages and withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the civilian communities in Zamboanga City and return to your camps.  In Islamic teachings, there is no justification at all for the current hostaging of helpless men, women and children and the occupation of civilian homes and communities in violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Law that sanctions distinction between military targets and civilians who are supposed to be protected.  In as much as we call for UN intervention and OIC support for our struggle, we can only expect international condemnation.

I am urging President Aquino and the Local Crisis Committee to provide an exit for these heavily armed MNLF fighters through the facilitation of third party mediators who are acceptable to Chairman Misuari.  Just like what happened in 2001 during the Kabatangan fighting, sobriety and determination to preserve innocent civilian lives led these people to a viable exit so that they can go back to their camps of origin.

What is happening now in Zamboanga City only shows that the political leaders in Sulu have no effective control over their constituents.  No amount of PAMANA and token reforms can appease the growing desperation of the Tausug people from the hands of traditional politicians who siphon the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to personal pockets and comforts.  Oppression, corruption, human rights violations, collapse of the rule of law, warlordism, and total absence of governance in Sulu brought about by irresponsible leaders who are subservient to the dictates of Manila – these are the conditions that push the Tausug people to the brink of desperation and fatalism.

There is no doubt that the current siege of Zamboanga City is yet another desperate attempt to prevent the signing of a comprehensive compact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who are equally determined to finish the talks and sign a comprehensive compact in the next ten days of negotiations which is ongoing in Kuala Lumpur.  While some may disagree and others tend to veer away from this motive, the timing of the attacks on the eve of the 40th round of talks speaks unequivocally of the message.

We must not also lose sight of the fact that while the MNLF clearly has legitimate concerns that need to be heard, it is not farfetched that other political interests including those of beleaguered politicians in the pork barrel scam are riding on this issue in order to divert the ire and attention of the public.

To all emerging leaders of the Bangsamoro, let us join hands in appealing to our elders to set aside revolutionary agenda, ideological divides, tribalism and factionalism among our people.  We must not compete in the race of getting the attention and favour of the national government.  We cannot continue to perfect the divide and rule tactic of our colonial masters.  Let us rise above this situation and sacrifice our political and personal interests for the sake of the Bangsamoro.

“Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear.  And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast. (8:46).”

Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie

Human Rights Defender


Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-042-2013
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Child rights, Corruption, Human rights defenders, Judicial system, Military, Rule of law,