“Remembering the Jabidah Massacre must go beyond commemorating this tragic incident. This should serve as a reminder for everyone that the struggle towards a peaceful, progressive and self-determining Bangsamoro is still far from over as injustices continue to happen on a regular basis.” 

This was how Gus Miclat, executive director of Mindanao-based peacebuilding institution Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) summed up their view of the historic Jabidah Massacre, which happened in March 18, 1968 where a number of Moro youth were executed after they were commissioned for a military covert operation (Operation Merdeka) to take over the island of Sabah in Malaysia. This incident was considered by many historians as a major flashpoint that ushered in the Bangsamoro uprising and their struggle for self-determination during Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s regime.

Miclat explained, “The Jabidah Massacre is a painful reminder of the scale of atrocities committed against the peoples of the Bangsamoro by no less than the Philippine government under Marcos Sr. We are aware of various attempts to revise or deny the real stories of the Jabidah Massacre and other similar incidents that happened in Mindanao. Historical injustices must be addressed by providing justice and remedies to the victims for the purpose of genuine ‘healing’. Denying it happened, is another form of injustice and a downright insult to our collective memory and sentiment as a nation.”

March 18 is also considered as a Bangsamoro Freedom Day while the whole month of March is also declared as Bangsamoro History Month every year based on Proclamation No. 0001 issued by the Bangsamoro Chief Minister.

Addressing historical injustices is a major component of the normalization annex of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) where a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was created with a specific mandate to conduct studies and policy interviews focusing on legitimate grievances, historical injustices, marginalization through land dispossession, and human rights violations.

Miclat added, “Today, we call on building stronger solidarity for the peoples of Mindanao. There is an unfinished mission for genuine national healing and this will not be fulfilled if the government continues to deny or ignore the fundamental reasons and roots of the Bangsamoro’s struggle for sustainable peace, economic progress and self-determination.”

The IID executive director stressed, “We urge the government, particularly policy actors, in the spirit of solidarity, to once and for all do what is right and deliver peace to the Bangsamoro without further delay by implementing the recommendations of the TJRC for starters, as maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each sovereign state.”

Miclat concluded, “The noble task of genuine national healing requires everyone to persist with a common commitment to establish a clear program for transitional justice. What’s at stake is our future and our ‘right to peace’ as a nation. Today, on the 56th commemoration of the Jabidah Massacre, we summon our collective desire and aspiration for a truly democratic, progressive and peaceful Mindanao and the Philippines.” ###

Contact: 09083241195 – Gani Abunda; Email: isaganiabunda07@gmail.com