Through the glass, clearly: THE MORO ELITE AND THE MORO REBELLION

By Nasser A. Marohomsalic
The Philippines is a socia
l volcano, wrote Nathan Chua in 2011 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, attributing it to the income gap between the rich and the poor, which is highest in ASEAN, and the control by the oligarchy over the economy and political power in the country. 


In the language of the historical materialists, where the stage of social development or mode of production is capitalist and the owners of the means of production as personified by the wealthy businessmen and industrialists who directly or through their representatives or protégées control the levers of political power and come by as the Ruling Elite, the gap comes about because, on the dictate of their natural cupidity, the ruling bourgeoisie reduced the working masses, including the professionals constituting the middle class among them, into their wage workers, appropriating the surplus value of their labor for their other portfolios that generate further income and wealth for them even as it feeds their incontinence and greed.

The relationship may go so exploitative as to render the workingman in dire financial strait, keeping head above water for his family by leaving his kids in the streets to their own devices and suffering the elements in squalid quarters of the city. Morally brutalized and torn, he would likely find relief in criminality or, by the urging of his natural intelligence or egged on by ideologues and activists, would seek solace and justice in the arm of rebellion.

In rural settings, the same system of unequal relationship obtains, the owners of the means of production personified by the landed gentries and loan sharks and the workingmen the peasantry.

This is a classic formulation of the social matrix whereon the rebellion of the proletarians as an organized political entity takes roots.


This unjust social arrangement stratifying society into two (2) sectors – the bourgeoisie or the capitalist class and the proletariat or the working class – underwrites the political order in Moro society. This dichotomization proceeds from the Moro value system called, Maratabat, which is a feudal earmark of its sultanic past and perpetuated to this day by the neo-nobility of bourgeoisie.



In our electoral experience, members of the Moro political elite are stand patters and will readily suffer terrible cost to hold on to their position of power and privilege. Instances are many where they picked on civic, religious and volunteer leaders and, forestalling any challenge from them, locked them out of the political arena using tools of cooptation and means of coercion including terrorism.

Hooked on the sycophancy of their henchmen and lieutenants and ensconced in the culture of impunity in their political turf, many live out a life of hedonism and hooliganism.

Several months ago, the Rasuls and the Ulama of Sulo went to the national media to drum up attention to the raping rampage of scions of certain influential and prominent families in the province. The victims did not complain and refused to give face to their pitiful predicament, fearful of reprisal from the powerful kin of their rapists.

In Lanao del Sur, thievery and robbery ala “akyat-bahay” are rampant, but these mostly end up only as stuff’s of private conversations, told and retold in confidence. Like in Sulu and stalked at by culprits whose relations count powerful people in the community, most victims avoided legal course to justice, some preferring traditional arbitration to settle score while others letting off culprits to buy peace.

Maguidanao is as dreadful. Most members of its political clans go around with a bevy of bodyguards armed to the teeth. It is said that the province teems with guns-for-hire and they command cheaper service fees.

Vendetta killing is almost a daily dish of information in the Moro region.


In the backwater of the country and with only a negligible presence of the media, the political elite in Moro society is afforded an almost free rein in the conduct of governance in their jurisdictions.

A legerdemain in speech, most elite would come off clean, however, from the disorderliness plaguing the region by shifting the blame on the National Government, which they accused of half-hearted support for and de minimis engagement in the development and progress of the region. They need no hard sale for their pretext. A new region, Caraga, has more budget than Muslim Mindanao. Many units of the Philippine Military are involved in human rights violations against Moro civilians.

Without cashing in on the pretension of the Moro elite, however, Moro intellectuals took their side for convenience, ever mindful of the lessons of history that testify to the jingoism of the non-Moro leadership of the country towards the Bangsamoro, which is a greater sin than the “puppetness” and cooptation of the Moro elite.


Interestingly, the contemporary Moro rebellion was bred in this social environment. With the complicity of Malaysia, which was then hooting against Oplan Merdeka of the Philippine Government to invade and retake Sabah in 1968, some members of the Moro political elite in the National Political Opposition organized 90 Moro youths, mostly their close relations, for military training in Malaysia. In 1971, they came home and constituted the core leadership of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), with Prof. Nur Misuari as Chairman. Earlier, a Moro elite leader in the National Political Opposition stirred the Moro religious to rise in arms for Moro separatism, among whom is Ustaj Salamat Hashim who broke away from the MNLF in 1977 to found the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In brief, the anti-colonial content of the Moro rebellion and the early organizing role of some members of the Moro political elite in the Moro rebellion prepped up the unspoken truce that holds to this day between the revolutionary organizations and the current Moro elite whose members are mostly scions in the first place of the early benefactors of the revolution. For tactical reasons too, the MNLF and the MILF avoided internecine conflict, letting the Moro elite do their whiles short of pointing the guns at them and facing up to the greater objective of establishing a true autonomous or an independent State for the Bangsamoro.

The New Ranao Star

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