Bangsamoro remembers ‘ Jabidah’ massacre

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - ( Bureau of Public I nformation. Mindanao Examiner contributed to this report.)

COTABATO CITY – Muslims in the Philippines commemorated the 48th anniversary of the infamous “Jabidah” massacre perpetrated during Marcos time.

The Jabidah massacre, also known as the “Corregidor” massacre, was an incident which occurred on the night of March 18, 1968 on the island of Corregidor in Luzon where members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed at least 28 Muslim recruits under their custody.

The recruits were trained to lead an invasion of Sabah in Malaysia which is being claimed by the Philippines, but the plan did not push through and the trainees were instead murdered by soldiers, except for one who survived the ordeal and exposed the massacre.

In Cotabato City, Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Muslim autonomous region, led the commemoration participated by a huge crowd.

In his speech, Hataman said it has been almost five decades since the Jabidah Massacre left its mark on the Bangsamoro consciousness – “a mark akin to a wound that has never fully healed as its scab is picked over and over again with every other act of injustice committed against our people.”

He said among the Bangsamoro, the story of Jabidah needs no introduction. “In our minds and hearts, there is no question that it happened and that it is true. In our history, there is no question about its rightful place in the long narrative of our struggle for self- determination.”

“But for many other Filipinos, the reality of the Jabidah Massacre remains either unknown or denied. In the midst of all the unknowns and denials, this is what we know: During the Marcos regime, Bangsamoro men were taken to Corregidor from the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi- tawi, and were recruited to be part of an elite commando group called Jabidah. This group has been tasked to carry out Operation Merdeka, an operation that involved destabilizing Sabah, allow- ing the Philippines to take over the area.”

He continued on to relived the story behind the massacre – “one night, their military handlers began to take them by the dozen to a remote airstrip. Here our brothers were executed as they were shot with machine guns, making sure not one of them survived. They were indiscriminately shot at and summarily executed, after being treated unfairly throughout the duration of their supposed training.”

“The number of Bangsamoro men killed ranges from eleven to the thousands. No one knows for sure. This is because our history knows not the exact numbers or dates, because our history has always been subjected to denial and erasure,” he said.

Hataman further said: “After so many of our communities have been burned down, so many of our families torn apart by war, and so many of our children growing up while fighting injustice, the murder of our brothers who wanted only to fight for our country was the final straw. Jabidah became the spark which started the flames of our struggle.”

“It is our history that speaks of our pain and healing, of conflict and survival, of losing and seeking our rightful place in this country. It is a history that has been seared onto our minds and our hearts by the fire of our long and difficult struggle, because no there is no other way for us to remember.”

He said today, Bangsamoro people continue the difficult task of remembering – a task that is necessary in the greater struggle for our rights as Bangsamoros, a struggle that we wage for lasting peace and genuine justice.

“Never again will we allow our people be hidden by the shadows of the past, and we will never forget our people whose lives depend so much on peace and whose deaths strongly demand justice,” Hataman said. In Manila, hundreds of sectoral representatives that included the youth, religious groups, peace organizations, and the academe also gathered 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 Scretary, said.

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 party- list spearheaded the activity in coordination with the Corregidor Foundation Inc., Mindanao Forum Inc., and the ARMM.

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