At least 28 young Moro recruits to a training supposedly to invade Sabah, Malaysia were killed, prompting young Moro professors and students into staging protests in Malacanang and eventually setting up the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
March 18 is the reckoning date of the founding of the MNLF although its actual creation was much later.
In 1998, on the 30th anniversary of the massacre, March 18 was declared “Bangsamoro Day,” a non-working holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), under Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 16 of the Regional Legislative Assembly whose governor then was MNLF chair Nur Misuari.
The Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC) is organizing the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Caravan which will kick off the year-long national campaign dubbed “Let us Resolve the Mindanao conflict, sign and implement peace agreements now!”
“The campaign aims at drawing in the broadest possible support in calling for government to conclude the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and work on the immediate delivery of its commitments in the peace accord that it would sign with the MILF and those that it committed to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the Final Peace Agreement of 1996,” the MPC said in a press statement.
The Peace Caravan “plans to mobilize around 100 youth leaders from provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga, Lanao, Cotabato, Maguindanao and Davao,” the MPC said, adding that their participation “will no doubt help us nationalize the Mindanao peace agenda and in mustering the needed support to our call for the resolution of the Mindanao conflict by immediately signing and implementing peace agreements.”
Mindanawons “have already sacrificed and suffered enough from the protracted conflict in Mindanao. Now is the time for us to go beyond Mindanao and let our voices calling for peace echo in Visayas and Luzon. Together let us touch the hearts of every peace loving Filipino as we urge them to help us bring this embattled island to a future of peace and genuine development for the Muslims and Christians alike,” the MPC said.
The MPC also asked participating groups “to shoulder their own expenses—transportation and board and lodging—for the peace caravan.”
The Philippine government and the MNLF met in Istanbul, Turkey on February 14 to 16 for the second Trripartite Meeting among the GRP, MNLF and the Organization of the Islamic Conference which brokered the 1976 and 1996 peace agreements and this ongoing tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 peace pact. The MNLF has been holding an observer status in the OIC since 1977, following the failed 1976 pact.
The Philippine government and the MILF on the other hand broke its 11-month impasse on the ancestral domain issue in October 2007, but ended in yet another impasse in December 2007 just as they were presenting the draft agreement on ancestral domain that they were supposed to base on the consensus points they reached much earlier. (MindaNews)