Power, small wars, and a smaller minority — ASN Events

Power, small wars, and a smaller minority (15665)

Emerson Sanchez 1
  1. College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The nation-state building project of the Philippine government, based on colonial legacies appropriated by the Christian majority, has been primarily challenged by the Bangsamoro (Moro nation), the nation upon which the different Moro groups (Muslim Filipinos) built their struggle against the state. After more than four decades of peace negotiations between the government and Moro insurgent groups (currently represented by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF), the panels signed a comprehensive agreement in early 2014. However, some parties expressed apprehension over the agreement, such as Lumad groups (indigenous Filipinos in Mindanao) who live in the core Moro territories like the Teduray, one of the smaller minorities in Moroland. These Lumad groups assert that their efforts to ensure that their distinct identity and territorial rights are recognised in the outcomes of the peace process have not been duly considered by the panels. The MILF's position has been to enjoin Lumad groups to support and identify with their cause. The MILF has been invoking their common ancestry enshrined in the oral histories of the Teduray and the Moro group Maguindanaon, and the high-level involvement of a full-blooded Teduray in the MILF. This paper argues that such simplified justifications for unity could be considered problematic because it ignores the socio-political diversity within each group constituted in spatialised modalities of power. In this context, socio-political diversity is manifested in divisions along physical location, class, and ideology. Power may be direct, mediated, and relational. It has different modalities, in this case, embodied in competing forces such as old and new rulers, political rivals, or different ideologies; and shifting and overlapping modes of rule and territorial regimes. The argument shall be elaborated by discussing the circumstances and events surrounding two small wars involving the Teduray: the short-lived Teduray rebellion against the American administration in the 1930s, and the attacks between Moros and the Christian Ilonggos allied with Teduray bandits in 1970.