By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte said that the country could have been saved from colonization if the Moros were able to do their “sworn duty” as the first settlers of the Philippines to defend the country from the Spaniards during the 16th century.
Duterte made the statement as he led the 121st Independence Day rites in Malabang, Lanao del Sur Wednesday evening.
In his speech, Duterte said that Islam evangelists were the first to come to the Philippines before the Spaniards and that the Moros could have defended the country from the Spanish conquistadors.
“So the Islam Evangelist came here but 100 years before. Is it our fault that you were not able to defend us there? In the Visayas and Luzon? The early settlers of the Visayas were all Moro. Iyan ang intindihin ninyo (That is what you should understand),” he said.
“But think about it. It was also your sworn duty at the time, sana, iniligtas ninyo kami doon sa mga Kastila pati Amerikano. But hanggang dito lang kayo sa Mindanao kaya nagkaganoon (You could have saved us from the Spaniards and the Americans. But you were only in Mindanao that’s why it happened),” he added.
However, Duterte said that he is not blaming anybody for what happened in the 16th century, stressing that all Filipinos are brothers.
“It’s too late in the day to have the blame game. Basta tayo, magkapatid (But all of us are brothers),” he said.
Over the weekend, Duterte lamented about the subjugation of the country, saying he has no reason to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in 2021.
Meanwhile, also in his speech, Duterte advised the Moros of Mindanao to exploit their riches so the next generation can benefit from it.
“Para ‘yan sa mga anak ninyo, hindi na ‘yan para sa inyo (That is not for you anymore, that is for your children now). That was really reserved for the children. Exploit it. Exploit the natural resources and make the Moro rich,” he said.
The President then reassured that the government will not interfere with how the Moros will manage their natural resources, particularly the Liguasan Marsh, but asked them to share them still with the rest of the country.
“Ang sinasabi ko, walang distorbo, unbridled, walang molestya (What I’m telling you is you won’t be disturbed. You will be unbridled). You have the place already. It was surrendered to you, it was given to you as a brotherly act of all Filipinos. Take advantage of it and hurry up the progress of the place,” Duterte said.
“‘Yang Liguasan Marsh, if there’s oil, you can have it. We will not allow other Christians to benefit from it. Kayo muna. Pag may sobra kayo, maawa naman kayo sa kapwa ninyong (You will benefit from it first. If you have more, then please give it to your fellow Filipinos),” he added.
“Magkapatid tayo lahat at hindi ako papayag na maisahan kayo, o yung mga Kristyano maisahan ninyo (We are all brothers and I will not allow anyone to get one over you nor favor you over Christians). Let us be fair,” he continued.
Early this year, Duterte recognized that there remains a contentious issue about the resources of the people of Mindanao.
“I assure you… It’s all yours. Liguasan Marsh. Nobody. It belongs to the Mindanaoans. It belongs to where the people…” he said.
“Do not be afraid that you will be deprived of this rich ever. It will always benefit the Mindanaoan and that is the purpose why we are here,” he added.
In a speech in June last year, Duterte assured that the estimated $1 billion gas field in Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao will not be touched by the national government.
It was revealed that the unexploited marsh in the south has become a source of cooking gas. Reports also said that the area beneath Lake Buluan in Maguindanao’s Liguasan Marsh contains 68 billion cubic feet of methane gas.