A few years ago, I was quite shocked to hear a Moro UP professor say that Misuari’s legacy was to give the name Bangsa Moro to the Moros. I simply could not conceive of Misuari doing something that original. Besides, I was already aware of the Bangsa Moro movement in the early 1970s, and he certainly was not one of the early prime movers. Has anybody seen Misuari being interviewed on TV or the press in the late 1960s / early 1970s speaking for the Moros? So, I asked my brother, Macapanton Rashid Abbas, Jr. popularly known as Jun, who was his contemporary.
He said that he and his group coined the word Bangsa Moro. Later, Misuari used it but as one word Bangsamoro. This was news to me then. I thought that Bangsamoro was a typographical error. In Jun’s article IS A BANGSA MORO STATE WITHIN A FEDERATION THE SOLUTION? which was published in the Ateneo Law Journal Issue No. 2 Vol. 48 Sept 2003, he wrote:
The Dawatul Islam (of which this author was the publisher from 1971-1972) was the official organ of all the Bangsa Moro Organizations united under the Union of Islamic Forces and Organization (UIFO) led by Congressman Sultan Rashid Lucman of Lanao del Sur and Congressman Salipada Pendatun of Cotabato. The said newspaper made researches on the terminology and came out with the term Bangsa Moro meaning, Moro Nation. This author took this phrase or concept from the Zamboanga Declaration and the Dansalan Declaration. It was based on the Moro language.
Even before he became a Moro leader, Jun was unparalleled as a student leader. At the Ateneo de Davao, he was the ROTC Corps Commander, the President of the Student Council, the Editor-in-Chief of the school organ and captain of the debating team, among others.
At the University of the Philippines, he was Grand Archon of the Sigma Rho fraternity, the President of the Inter-Fraternities and Sororities, captain of the debating team which won the national championship, etc.
He was also the President and later Secretary-General of the National Union of Students of the Philippines and Secretary-General of the World University Service.On the Moro front, he was the “brain” of the Moro revolution. He submitted evidence of torture and genocide of the Moro people to the Organization of Islamic Conference in Jeddah in 1972. On the strength of his petition before then OIC head Tengku Abdul Rahman and other OIC leaders, the OIC took cognizance of the Moro struggle.In the early 70s, he was the publisher of the only Moro newsletter in Manila, the Dawat ul Islam, where the atrocities of the Christian vigilantes and Philippine armed forces were exposed.
He led the Moro demonstrations against the Jabidah massacre, the visit of the Israeli leader Abba Eban and against the Marcos administration.
Together with Congressman Rashid Lucman, our mother’s cousin, he formed the Union of Islamic Forces, the National Action Coordinating Council for Islamic Affairs (NACCIA), the Bangsa Moro Liberatin Front and other organizations that laid the foundations of the Moro revolution. These groups sent 90 young Moros to Sabah for combat training. This so-called Top 90 became the core of the MNLF.
He was arrested and put in detention when Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus and then again during Martial Law. But he was released shortly thereafter.
In 1975, Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor asked Jun to join his team to help the Moros through peaceful means. Jun agreed and he was put in-charge of the Presidential Task Force for the Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao. The PTF-RDM was responsible for the creation of the Amanah Bank, Maharlika Village, SPDA, the recognition of Sultan Qudarat as a national hero, etc.
However, more than a year later, he realized that Marcos was not sincere in solving the Moro issue. Melchor was purged and Jun escaped to Saudi Arabia without a valid passport.
In Saudi Arabia, he re-united with Congressman Lucman and Senator Pendatun to form the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization.
As Secretary-General of the BMLO, Jun together with the two Moro elders, traveled to other countries to drum up support for the Moro revolution. He also helped in funding the ground forces fighting Marcos.
In the early 1980s, the MNLF Congress ousted Misuari. The collective leadership of the MNLF Reformists went to Jeddah to get his support. He became the de facto head of the MNLF Reformist Group although he did not want to be designated as the Chair of the Executive Committee.
In 1986, upon the invitation of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce-Enrile, he came back to Manila together with several MNLF RG leaders.
He signed the very first post-Tripoli Ceasefire Agreement with the AFP. It was the start of the Peace Process.That was the height of Jun’s popularity among the Moros, especially the armed sectors. If only Mrs. Aquino agreed to talk with Jun and his group, we could have had peace since then.Despite the advice of Cardinal Sin, the OIC and other groups, President Aquino refused to talk with Jun. Ms. Aquino, her brother Butz and other advisers wanted to resurrect Nur Misuari.Ms. Aquino agreed to talk with Jun privately, but Jun refused. He had no private business with her. He wanted to talk officially and transparently.
(Had Aquino agreed to have a peace agreement with Jun’s MNLF at that time, perhaps there would have been peace in Mindanao since. At that time, Jun and his group had the support of the greater part of the MNLF; MILF was not yet a force to reckon with; and the Bangsa Moro people were eager to have peace, especially after the EDSA euphoria. That kind of opportunity may never come back.)
I had been urging my brother to write his memoirs before it was too late. Before he passed away, he wrote a rather long and rambling article for the Ateneo Law Journal where he finally wrote some of his experiences on the Moro front.