For more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule, the people in southern and central Mindanao who have come to be known as the Bangsa Moro, the peoples of the Cordillera mountain range and other indigenous peoples living in mountainous and hilly areas waged a heroic and sustained resistance to colonialism and imperialism.
It took the superior might of US imperialism to subdue them by force of arms and draw them into the ambit of colonial rule by bribing and coopting many of their leaders and undermining their system of livelihood and traditional institutions. But these compatriots of ours have managed to continue their resistance in various ways, repeatedly rising in revolts and preserving a distinct culture. Under the puppet neocolonial republic, the local ruling classes and their US masters marginalized these compatriots even further and treated them as inferior peoples. They became victims of institutionalized discrimination and oppression, massive landgrabbing and widespread armed terror and abuse.
The Marcos fascist dictatorship multiplied these crimes a hundred times over by acts of genocide against the Moro people and widescale dispossession of the Cordillera people and other indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.The Moro people fought back, launching one uprising after another—an armed resistance which rapidly developed into a full-blown revolutionary struggle for self-determination. The Cordillera peoples likewise rose in armed resistance, which they integrated into the revolutionary struggles of the entire Filipino people. Other indigenous peoples joined the national democratic struggle.
The NDF upholds the right of the Bangsa Moro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples to self-determination. They have the right to decide their own destiny, to free themselves from national exploitation, chauvinism and discrimination, to achieve democracy, to rule themselves and to pursue social progress in an all-round way and in accordance with their specific conditions.
This principled stand is in line with the NDF’s aspiration to build a Philippines where there is unity, equality and brotherhood of all peoples and nationalities and to forge a nation that is founded upon real independence from imperialism, democracy for the people, and genuine autonomy for the Bangsa Moro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples.
The right to self-determination includes the right to secede, more so under conditions of national oppression. The Bangsa Moro had raised the banner of secession in its struggle against the US-Marcos dictatorship. Under a democratic Philippines where the equality of peoples and nationalities is guaranteed, the Bangsa Moro is urged to take the valid and viable option of a genuinely autonomous political rule.
Upon its establishment, the people’s democratic government shall affirm the right to selfdetermination
of the Bangsa Moro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples. It shall guarantee them genuine autonomous rule and rightful representation and participation in the central government. It shall resolve their claims to ancestral lands with due recognition of historical realities and shall redress their long standing grievances. It shall guarantee them equal political, economic and social rights as well as respect for their way of life.
Genuine autonomy would mean authentic and full guarantees for self-governance within the framework of the people’s democratic republic of the Philippines, a structure of government that ensures full participation and decisive say by the people of the autonomous areas on all matters affecting their lives, recognition of their right to ancestral land, priority in employment and economic opportunities, returns from the economic development of their areas mainly accruing to them to hasten their social progress, and respect for their tradition and culture.
Outside the autonomous areas, they shall be entitled to significant representation in the national people’s congress and to proportional representation in organs of power in Mindanao at various levels. The social, legal, religious and cultural traditions of the Bangsa Moro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples shall be respected. At the same time, they shall be encouraged to interact with the richly diverse cultures in the Philippines. The historical, social and religious ties of the Bangsa Moro with their Islamic brethren abroad shall likewise be respected.
The central government shall help the autonomous areas and people therein to develop according to their decisions and specific conditions. It shall give them all the necessary support to enable them to advance and progress together with the rest of the nation.
The Twelve Points of the NDF Program
6. Implement genuine agrarian reform, promote agricultural cooperation, raise rural production and employment through modernization of agriculture and rural industrialization and ensure agricultural sustainability.
10. Uphold the rights of the Bangsa Moro and the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples to self-determination and democracy.