Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook

By Charles Kurzman | Go to book overview

Dimasangcay A. Pundato


8
Christian-Muslim Democracy

Muslims are a minority of under 10 percent in the Philippines, concentrated largely on the island of Mindanao. The Moro National Liberation Front, the largest organization representing the Muslims, has waged a war of independence since the 1970s. In 1982, the Reformist Group headed by Dimasangcay A. Pundato ( Philippines, born 1947) broke from the front, objecting to the undemocratic internal structure of the movement and the socialist leanings of the movement's leaders, and accepting autonomy rather than independence as the goal of the movement.1 In the mid-1980s, the Reformist Group joined other pro-democracy forces in peaceful protest against the dictatorship. When the dictatorship fell in 1986, the Reformist Group, along with other Muslim groups such as the United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines, worked with the government to improve the position of Muslims in the Philippines, while the MNLF resumed its war of independence. In the speech and letter published here, Pundato explains his commitment to the democratic process and urges even closer cooperation among Christians and Muslims.


Making International Politics More Humane

Peace be upon all of you!

Let me recall the peroration of a speech delivered before the 94th American Newspaper Publishers Association Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 24, 1980:

I ask you, publishers of America, to please help us open the eyes of your policymakers. Democracy is still the wave of the future. Help us make it less bloody to ride with the wave.

The speech demolished the pretensions of the erstwhile dictator of the Philippines, who had gone to Hawaii with a grand entourage to address that convention.

It was the dictator who was originally the only one invited to explain the situation in the Philippines.

____________________
1
W. K. Che Man, Muslim Separatism: The Moros of Southern Philippines and the Malays of Southern Thailand ( Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 197-199; Che Man, "Moro National Liberation Front," and Cesar Adib Majul, "Philippines," in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 3, pp. 132-133 and 326-328; Majul, The Contemporary Muslim Movement in the Philippines ( Berkeley, Calif.: Mizan Press, 1985).

-85-

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