CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Fiftieth anniversary of massacre that triggered war in Mindanao

MANILA (UCAN): Filipino advocates marked the 50th anniversary of the 18 March 1968 massacre of Muslim commandos reportedly trained by the government of then-president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, to wreak havoc in Sabah, Malaysia in the 1960s.
 
At a forum in Manila last week, historians and academics called the incident one of the “heinous crimes of the dictatorship” against the Moro people.
 
“It signifies the cycle of events of frustrations of the Moro people,” said the dean of the Institute of Islamic Studies of the University of the Philippines, Macrina Morados.
 
Professor Julkipli Wadi stressed the importance of “looking back critically” at the path of the struggle of the Muslim Moro people of Mindanao.
 
In 1967, Marcos created a secret commando unit called Jabidah, supposedly to take over Sabah. 
 
The Philippines had laid claim to the territory on Borneo after Malaya gained independence from Britain.
 
About 180 young Moro fighters from the Tausug tribe in Mindanao were brought to Corregidor Island near Manila to train but were reportedly killed for insubordination.
 
Some scholars said the men were killed to prevent a leak of information about the covert mission.
 
Wadi said the massacre inspired the “rebirth of the Moro people’s armed struggle for freedom and independence.”
 
Months after the incident, several Muslim groups in Mindanao issued a manifesto of independence and formed what was later known as the Moro National Liberation Front.
 
The rebel group and its splinter organisations continue to wage war against the Philippine government.

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