Friday, April 5, 2013




4th of series

Introduction of Filipino Colonial Settlements

President Manuel L. Quezon catapulted to the throne at Malacaňang in 1935 under the transitional Commonwealth Government.  Settling the indios of Luzon and Visayas in Moroland was in the agenda of the transitional government. It was deliberately aimed to reduce if not to confiscate Moro ancestral domain and envisioned to gradually drive away the Moros from their landholdings inherited from their forebears many centuries back.
For the government, the proposed settlements in Moro territory was an answer to the alleged overpopulation scare in islands of Luzon and Visayas. Momentarily, such a grand design was interrupted by the coming of the Japanese in 1941.

Except for the 4 year-interlude due to the Japanese invasion in 1941, the vicious cycle of colonization through putting up of settlements in Moro territory was the main agenda of government. It was a mockery aimed at putting into place so-called poor peasants and former members of the Hukbongbayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP or Huks), a guerilla group who fought against the Japanese, who returned to the folds of law in disguise of decongesting Luzon and Visayas Islands.

“But they were not truly poor. They came from progressive areas of the Ilocos Region, Cebu and Iloilo whom in later years became multi-millionaires due to their exploitation of natural resources of the Moro territory (Jubair, 1999).

Settlers Continue to Occupy Moro Lands

The inrush of Christian settlers continued from the Commonwealth era down to the succeeding Filipino Regimes. “On February 12, 1935, the government enacted Legislative Act No. 4197, otherwise known as the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act. This was the turning point of the land settlement phenomenon, when the government declared settlements as the only solution” to the problem in Mindanao and Sulu.

On November 7, 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon signed into law Commonwealth Act No.141 which declared all Moro ancestral landholdings as public land. He further aggravated the Moro situation when on June 1939, signed Commonwealth Act No.4411 creating the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA). Three major settlements were opened up in Cotabato Valley and Koronadal.  Way back in 1913, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No.2254 and 2280 creating “colonies” in Mindanao.

As a result of this legalized land grabbing in Moro land, endless bloodshed and destruction became the order of the day because the situation seemed so skillfully woven to neutralize the Moros right in their own backyard.

In the 1950’s, a new government agency called Land Settlement Development Corporation (LASEDECO) was created and became the resettlement implementing agency of the state. By the end of its mandate, it had resettled 1,500 families at the expense of 3.5 Million pesos. Under Republic Act no. 1160, the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Program was created in 1954.

The government also created the Economic Development Corporation (EDCOR) which issued homestead lands to alleged former Huks. As such, all creations of government for settlements were obviously envisioned to marginalize the Moro inhabitants whose ancestral domain was gradually reduced to very minimal coverage. The Island of Mindanao became a dumping ground for so called undesirables of Luzon and the Visayas.”

Cotabato and Lanao Regions were badly affected by these oppressive and devious creations of those in the helm of government. Years after years, the influx of Christian settlers to Moroland continued unabated until finally the economic climate and land ownership changed dramatically in favor of the settlers. What were left to the Moros were arid lands, marshland, mountainous areas which were deforested later on due to unscrupulous logging by big time settlers and kaingin (slash and burn system).

In one of his speeches during the Commonwealth era, President Quezon said,” "The time has come when we shall systematically proceed and bring about the colonization and economic development of Mindanao”. “If therefore we are resolved to conserve Mindanao for ourselves and our posterity, we must bend all our efforts to occupy and develop it and guard it against avarice and agreed. Its colonization and development will mean increased national wealth and national security”, Quezon further said. (March 6, 2013)

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