CSOs in ARMM commemorate 48th year of Jabidah massacre
MANILA, Philippines (March 19, 2016) – Peace-building roles of civil society organizations (CSOs) based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were highlighted in this year’s commemoration of the ‘Jabidah Massacre’.
Hundreds of sectoral representatives that include the youth, religious groups, peace organizations, and the academe gathered on Friday, March 18, in Corregidor Island to observe the 48th year of the Jabidah Massacre.
“CSOs play a crucial role in promoting transitional justice to address past human rights violations committed against the Bangsamoro, such as the Jabidah massacre,” Laisa Alamia, ARMM’s executive secretary, said.
In 1967, Bangsamoro men from the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were recruited to be part of an elite group called Jabidah. The group was tasked to carry out ‘Operation Merdeka’, part of a plan that involved destabilizing Sabah, allowing the Philippine government to take over control of the now Malaysian state.
The recruits were eventually killed, indiscriminately shot, on the airstrip in Corregidor. The number of Bangsamoro men killed, as reported by media, ranges from 11 to 68 to 200.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman argues that the Jabidah massacre, which occurred on March 18, 1968, is the turning point that led to the decades-old Moro struggle for self-determination.
“Jabidah became the spark, which started the flames of our struggle,” Gov. Hataman said. Yet, many Filipinos still believe the massacre never happened, the governor added.
Only in 2013, when President Benigno Aquino witnessed the 45th commemoration of the massacre, did the national leadership fully recognized the historical injustice done to the Bangsamoro. A historical marker recognizing the killing of the Bangsamoro men was unveiled in 2015 near the airstip where the massacre occurred.
For 21-year-old Johnlypee Mokudef of the Maguindanao Youth Network, the commemoration of the massacre is an effective way to raise the consciousness of the youth about the struggle of the Moros.
“Pagbalik namin sa ground, tutulong kami sa pag-eeducate sa ibang kabataan tungkol sa ipinaglalaban ng mga Bangsamoro (When we return to our areas, we would help in educating the youth on the Bangsamoro struggle),” Mokudef said.
Being a Teduray, an indigenous tribe in Upi, Maguindanao, he hopes that more youth will be encouraged to participate in similar activities for better inter-faith understanding of issues in the religiously diversified ARMM.
Tirmizy Abdullah, an assistant professor of history at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, said the Jabidah Massacre is more than just part of history of the Bangsamoro people, noting it is of religious, cultural and historical significance to the Moro struggle.
The commemoration, which featured a film viewing and tour around the island, bears the theme “Peace is the Justice We Seek.” The Anak Mindanao partylist spearheaded the activity in coordination with the Corregidor Foundation Inc., Mindanao Forum Inc., and the ARMM. (Bureau of Public Information)