Friday, October 25, 2013

No More Bangsamoro Republik: Philippine Rebel Occupation Defeated

Map of territory in the Philippines and Malaysia claimed by the Bangsamoro Republik, plus territorial control by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL) during last month's Zamboanga crisis.
Claims and territorial control of the MNLF rebels and Bangsamoro Republik during last month's crisis. Click to see full-sized map and article. Map by Evan Centanni.
Territory Retaken by Government
Last month, Political Geography Now mapped Moro rebel control in the Philippines' Zamboanga crisis. The rebels, drawn from a group which had declared independence from the Philippines as the Bangsamoro Republik, had occupied several neighborhoods of Zamboanga City in the country's southwest after an aborted attempt to raise their flag in the city center.

Ten days after we published that article, the government of the Philippines declared the crisis over, with all hostages freed and only scattered fighting occurring over the next two days as the surviving rebels attempted to escape the area. After nearly three weeks of chaos, the city of Zamboanga was once again fully under government control.

What of the MNLF fighters?
Though hundreds of rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were killed in the fighting, some did escape, and the attack's commander Habier Malik is still missing. Nur Misuari, the faction's leader and founder of the self-declared Bangsamoro Republik, was not present at the attack but is now wanted on charges of rebellion. But he may have more than just the government to worry about - Malik's surviving men from the Zamboanga attack are also said to be on the hunt for Misuari, who allegedly tricked them into participating. According to Mujiv Hataman, governor of the officially sanctioned Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Misuari promised Malik's men that U.N. peacekeepers would arrive soon after the attack to secure Bangsamoro independence and reward each fighter with 10,000 pesos (US $230) and a new weapon.

BIFF Attacks
Attacks by other Moro rebel groups in nearby regions continued until just after Zamboanga was secured. In particular, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Fighters (MILF) who are currently in peace talks with the Philippine government, continued launching attacks elsewhere in Mindanao into early October. The BIFF is not closely tied to Nur Misuari's MNLF, and these were apparently just opportunistic attacks taking advantage of the military's distraction during the crisis in Zamboanga.

More information: Bangsamoro Republik? Philippine Separatists Seize Territory (map)