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Senator wants Filipino-Muslim studies as elective subject in college.

Manila: Senator Loren Legarda filed a bill that called for the establishment of Filipino-Muslim studies as an elective subject in college, adding that miseducation of majority of Filipino Christians is the cause of their misunderstanding of the Filipino-Muslims who are based in the southern Philippines.

"The integration and mainstreaming of the study of the history of our Islamic brothers and sisters and the lumads [or Muslim ethnic groups] in our state universities and colleges and even in private higher educational institutions will promote national unity," Legarda said.

"The goal of this measure is to provide the youth a broader perspective of their past, reinforcing Filipino identity," Legarda said, adding that Filipino-Muslim studies will highlight positive relations between Muslims and Christians; and identify their shared origins and commonality even before the arrival of Islam and Catholicism through the Spanish colonials from 1526 to 1898; and Protestantism through American colonials from 1898 to 1945.

Experts on the history of the Muslims, their culture, and identities; those engaged in peace talks between the government and various Filipino-Muslim rebel groups; and anthropologists with knowledge of and field works done on the different lumads or ethno-linguistic groups in the south; and Christian leaders who have settled in the south and interacted with the Muslims there should be used as resource persons in the formulation of the proposed Filipino-Muslim studies, including the writing and publication of textbooks and other reading materials for the said project, said Legarda, who is also chair of the Senate committee on cultural communities.

"It is about time that we recognise the rightful place of the history and identity of the Bangsamoro in our national history," said Legarda.

The Philippine government has forged three pro-autonomy peace settlements with two major Filipino-Muslim rebel groups in the south.

It has signed a peace accord with the 45-year old Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Libya in 1976, and in Manila in 1996. It has reached a political settlement with the 38-year old Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf) in 2014, after peace talks that began in 1997.

A Philippine law was passed in 1989 which allowed the holding of a referendum for Filipino-Muslim autonomy in the south. It resulted in the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with four provinces.

The peace accord between the Philippine government and the MNLF prompted Congress to allow a second referendum for autonomy which was held in 2001, resulting in the expansion of the ARMM. It is now composed of five provinces and one city.

The peace settlement between the Philippine government and the Milf called for the inclusion of six more towns and 600 Filipino-Muslim dominated villages to be part of the ARMM, but the autonomous region will also acquire a new name, and enhanced self-governance.

There are four million (politicalised) Filipino-Muslims and 8.5 million lumads, Sultan Mamakow Makapandong told Gulf News, adding that the Sultanate of Sulu, founded in 1405, is one example of lumads.

The Sultanate of Sulu ruled Mindanao, Sabah (now North Borneo) and North Kalimantan of Malaysia. In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei gave Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu for helping the former quell a rebellion there. This has been the basis of the Philippines' claim to Sabah, a dispute that has not yet been resolved, Makapandong explained.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 12, 2015
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