Muslim-Christian Relations in the Philippines: Redefining the Conflict

Essay by techfreakA+, October 2004

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About a couple of months ago, relations between the Muslims and the Christians in the Philippines have once again been provoked into a confrontational stance with the problem over the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) armed movement for an independent Islamic state in the South and the audacity of the Abu Sayyaf for hostage rampage. While these may seem to be a problem on peace and order, the side effects of an economy on a downturn, they nonetheless trigger an alarm that it is not "all quiet at the southern front" to borrow a line. This means, something of the disturbing part of the past is being disturbed once more. What is again being stirred murky is the regard of the Muslims against the Christian Filipinos and vice-versa.

The recidivism in the Muslim-Christian encounter in the country has raised a major question whether the solution or the line of action taken to resolve the so called "Muslim problem" is tenable or not.

In this respect, the national leadership as well as the other power blocs believe that whatever infirmity or shortcomings there are in the solution, that is, the 1996 Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) particularly on the establishment and operation of autonomy in Muslim Mindanao, is mainly a matter of effective management. It is understandable why the central administration of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been pressured to answer serious allegations on irregularities in handling development funds and other financial assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The government is strongly cloaked with political as well as moral authority to place the ARMM Governor under a compromising position, himself, having been a principal signatory to the 1996 Peace Agreement, and to a greater extent, the 1996 Peace Agreement is a...