In one of my nostalgic visits to Sulu some years ago, one of the ‘armchair mujahideen’ confided to me his dream. Having been nurtured through the years under the policy of “self-reliance,” he said, many of the basic problems confronting the Tausug communities in Lupah Sug (Sulu) can best be solved through the initiative of the people concerned even without the support of the international peace-loving community. Through the suggested solution, it is possible to address the Peace & Order problems to return to normalcy, if only the colonial government would shelve its evil design to keep the Tausug & SSDI perennially impoverished and in perpetual bondage. In that dream, the following were singled out from among so many of his narrations:
1. Water and sanitation problem.
Priority should be given to address this particular problem because it can easily be solved since the main items are readily available. The utter lack of health centers and relevant medical supplies is exacerbated by the poor health and sanitation in villages due to lack of potable water supply. While water flows freely from the mountains and rivers, there are no serious efforts to pipe them over to the villages in dire need of water.
2. Education problem
The breakdown of peace and order during most part of the last four decades has taken a heavy toll on the literacy of the Tausug (Moro) youths most of whom have grown old without attaining proper education, either Western or Islamic. This developed after public school teachers refused to serve their assignments in rural areas due to transport problem as well as the recurring peace and security hiccups. With educational institutions available only in cities and municipalities, only less than 40 per cent of school age children could avail of the opportunity.
3. Food and employment scarcity
Due to political instability brought about by the unresolved Moro movements for self-determination, food supply and employment have become scarce in Muslim areas especially in the island provinces of Mindanao and Sulu. As a matter of humanitarian remedial expediency, efforts should be exerted to help develop the potential of the Tausug nationals to produce food stuff indigenously by way of natural or organic farming (land and sea) and the establishment of small-scale industries which would also in part help solve the vast unemployment problems.
4. Housing and Resettlement
The over three decades of armed conflict between the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro peoples struggling for independence, have uprooted over a million people throughout Mindanao and Sulu archipelago into diaspora, nearly half-a-million of whom are still living in dire straits, mostly as refugees or internally displaced people (idp). They need humanitarian assistance to rebuild their shattered lives after their homes, work animals and paraphernalia were destroyed by the massive bombings or mis-appropriated by the enemy during military operations at the height of the conflict.
5. Build Infrastructures
Infrastructures and public utilities should be built, especially those that were destroyed during the war, such as clinics, schools, mosques, madrasahs, roads, bridges, jetties and ports, etc. Inter-island transport facilities should also be made available to serve the poor farmers, fishermen and small businessmen in remote villages or islands.
6. Small-Scale Industries
Small-scale industries should be put up in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Palawan and Tawi-Tawi, as much as possible, to provide employment to local people and to make available manufactured halal foods and ingredients. Otherwise, barter trades between BIMP-EAGA states should be enhanced to enable Muslims to obtain halal merchandize and other supplies for local consumption.
7. Land and Sea farming
Natural or organic farming should be introduced to local farmers engaged in either poultry and vegetable farming or seafood culture. Techniques and seedlings should be made available to farmers including micro-credit facilities for them to start with. Innovative technology should be encouraged for local craftsmen to produce ‘incubators’ for hatching eggs, and ‘feedmills’ for poultry feeds.
In view of the above and many other problems confronting the Tausugs, which have been left unattended to by the colonial government for generations, it is already incumbent upon this generation of Tausugs to take up the cudgels by supporting the formal restoration of the Independence of the Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam, which, in the annals of the United Nations De-colonization Commission, would be the ‘icing on its cake’!
We call upon all groups of Tausugs to show their undivided support of the Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam (SSDI) which has already declared its formal restoration at Plaza Tulay in Jolo last November 17, 2010, has raised the Flag of Independence throughout the Sulu Archipelago and has already minted its own currency of ‘Dublon’ and ‘Pilak’ or Dinar and Dirham, recognized by the World Islamic Mint, already in circulation in some rich nations such as Singapore, Malaysia and others; and now ready for circulation in SSDI pending the formal establishment of our own BAITULMAL. In-sha-Allah!
Your support is very crucial and indispensable. Play your role as a responsible beneficiary and be counted among the original prime movers of the Independence which took over from where the former Movement had left to venture into Autonomy. You are not a newcomer, we were only on separate boats roving towards the same direction. Now, let us unite in the interest of our beloved homeland, Tausug and Islam. You have always been a part of the Struggle, so do not squander the opportunity of being prominently playing your dignified role in this last stretch of the final Struggle. AllahuAkbar..AllahuAkbar…!
May Allah SWT Bless our Noble Intentions, Efforts and Blood and Guts. Ameen.
Wassalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.