Filipinos remember ‘Sabah invasion’ that led to massacre
Published on: Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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COTABATO CITY: The fifty-first year since the Jabidah Massacre—where dozens of military recruits from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were killed—is an occasion to work harder to realise the struggle that it sparked, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chief minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority said Monday.  

The Jabidah Massacre enflamed the Moro secessionist uprising in the country’s south. 

Some accounts say the recruits had mutinied over delayed pay and ill treatment while others say they did after learning that they were being trained to foment unrest in Sabah in preparation for its takeover by Manila.

“Fifty-one years ago, a group of Moro youth was ruthlessly killed, in what is now known in history as the Jabidah Massacre, spurring the contemporary Moro rebellion. On this day, we remember the great mujaheedin who, since then, have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for the Bangsamoro cause,” he said in an emailed statement.

“We remember as well those who perished in several other massacres committed in the past such as in Manili, Wao, and Palembang.”

Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was a teenager when he joined the Moro National Liberation Front.

He is now interim chief minister of the BTA, which will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao until elections for new officials are held. 

“We shall take considerable steps towards attaining transitional justice to heal the wounds of the past, initiate reconciliation, and set the stable environment for the non-recurrence of organized violence against the Bangsamoro,” he said. 

“We recognise the formidable challenges—from the bureaucratic transition, normalization of combatants, law enforcement operations, and some groups’ refusal to be on board the new Bangsamoro Government. But all of these we have to face with the same resolve that has kept the spirit of struggle alive in our hearts and minds,” he also said.

Two factions of the MNLF held separate commemorations of the massacre on Monday.

A faction led by MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari gathered at the fenced compound of the People’s Palace while the other commemorated the event in another activity at Barangay Rosary Heights 8 in the outskirts of Cotabato City.

The group that held a programme at Barangay Rosary Heights belongs to an MNLF faction under Misuari’s former lieutenants, Muslimin Sema of Maguindanao and Yusoph Jikiri from Sulu.

The massacre was a rallying point for Misuari and his ally from Maguindanao, the cleric Hashim Salamat , who studied Islamic theology at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, to recruit for the MNLF and to fight for self-rule. 

Hashim and his followers, due to irreconcilable differences with Misuari, bolted the group in the early 1980s and formed the MILF.


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