It is now thirty years since Islamic groups in the southern Philippines launched a rebellion against the government. During these past thee decades there have been truces, promises and one agreement after another that was broken by either side. A cease fire once again has broken down and government forces are fighting elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF). At least 55 government or rebel troops died in the latest fighting. Eid Kabalu, a rebel leader, claims “Government soldiers are torching houses owned by Muslims” while government spokesmen insist the Muslims violated the truce by entering a Christian village and killing people. The Philippine army says it killed more than 100 Muslim fighters over the past week of fighting.
Fighting apparently broke out when Muslim soldiers violated the agreement and attacked dozens of Christian villages. The Muslims want their own nation which, most probably, will not be granted by any Philippine government. Undoubtedly, some sort of local autonomy is the best road to peace. A basic issue is which areas actually fall into the category of being “Muslim” or “Christian.”