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Southern Nationalist Party (21st Century Crisis)

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Southern Nationalist Party
Malay name Partai Kebangsaan Selatan
Filipino name Makabayan Partidong Timog
Chavacano name Partido Nationalista del Sur
Leader Halima Abdullah
Chairperson Hakimul Sri-Bantilan
President Steven John
Secretary-General Embong Adianto
Spokesperson Jalak Islam
Founded 1949
Headquarters Flag of the Philippines Kota Batu, Philippines
Newspaper Berita Mindanao
Balitang Mindanao
Youth wing Defenders of Mindanao
Merdaka Program
Ideology Cultural conservatism
Social conservatism
Economic liberalism
Political position Right-wing


The Southern Nationalist Party (Malay: Partai Kebangsaan Selatan, Filipino: Makabayan Partidong Timog, Chavacano: Partido Nationalista del Sur) or the SNP or Partai Kebangsaan in short and originally the Mindanao Nationalist Party (Malay: Partai Kebangsaan Mindanao, Filipino: Makabayan Partidong Mindanao), is a regional right-wing political party in the Philippines, particularly in the southern Philippines in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, also with a strong presence in Palawan and Cebu.

Its ideology is influenced by Moro and Lumad nationalism, also known collectively as Southern Philippine nationalism, and was heavily influenced by Indonesian and Malay nationalism, and originated in the late 1940s by separatists and secessionists from the southern Philippines who fought the Japanese occupation, and rejected Mindanao and Sulu's status as Philippine territory. The party was responsible for the formation of the de facto Republic of Mindanao, that lasted from 1949 to 1967. 

The party was founded by Gumbay Piang, the son of Datu Piang as the Mindanao Nationalist Party. Piang was a Moro nationalist who led militant-insurgencies against the Japanese occupation, and is seen as a political and cultural hero for people of the southern Philippines. Even after the Republic of Mindanao's dissolution, it remained active and eventually became one of southern Philippines' most powerful political parties. Originally catering to the people of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, over time the party had begun to exert considerable influence and gain supporters from Palawan and Cebu to as far as Metro Manila, all with significant Moro and Hispanophobic populations. Therefore in 2016, the party changed its name to the Southern Nationalist Party, to include all Filipinos of the southern regions, regardless of island group, religion or native language.

The party's goals are to protect the native culture of the southern Philippines and to resist Latinizing of Mindanao and Sulu, unite the people of the two island groups as well as Palawan, and preserve the Malay language. The party was successful in getting many bills passed that would protect the culture of the southern Philippines.

Political allies include the Lakas-CMD Party, a center-right political party from Mindanao, as well as the Nacionalista Party.

History

The origins of the Southern Nationalists lie during the course of World War II's ending. Gumbay Piang, a Maguindanaoan chief with partial Chinese descent, and son of Datu Piang, organized a militia known as the Mindanao Free Army (Malay: Mindanao Tentera Percuma) that fought insurgencies against the Japanese forces. They allied themselves with the Americans, helping free American and Allied POWs across the country, seeing American influence as essential to wiping out Spanish influence.

The Japanese surrendered to the American forces in 1945 and Mindanao was declared part of the newly-independent Philippines. The Moros of Mindanao, however, did not recognize Philippine ownership of Mindanao and declared a state of sovereignty, having felt betrayed.

Gumbay Piang was very influenced by the Indonesian independence movement, and temporarily lived in the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia) to not only support Sukarno's independence movement, but also to gain insight and inspiration, he eventually met face-to-face with Sukarno who would one-day, become the first president of Indonesia. Sukarno and Salahuddin spent a lot of time trading ideas, and both also shared a mutual interest in choosing the Malay language as the languages of their new republics.

In 1946, Piang returned to Mindanao, particularly Cotabato City with other Moro chiefs in an event known as the Cotabato City Convention (Malay: Konvensyen Bandar Kota Batu) on January 4, 1946 in which they discussed the Constitution of Mindanao, as well as the would-be national language, and political bodies that would govern the state.

They eventually declared that Malay was the language of independence, and had to re-educate the people of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago to speak Malay, as 300-years of Spanish colonization as well as decades of American occupation had nearly eliminated Malay from the archipelago. 

Over the next couple years, Gumbay Piang, went around Mindanao and Sulu to give speeches and gain support for an independent Republic. On January 3, 1947, the Second Cotabato City Convention was held, as Piang wanted a unified party - of all Mindanao natives whether they be Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist. This convention was by-far larger than the first. It was not only attended by Moro chiefs, but also by Lumads, Hindus, Buddhists and event Visayan Catholics who lived in Mindanao. Several people proposed different names. Salipada Pendatun, a lawyer from Cotabato, who would come the Vice President of the new republic, proposed the "United Mindanao Army". Juan Sagun, a Subanon Lumad and Protestant, from Zamboanga City proposed the Mindanao Democratic Party. However, it is Musinal Islam's proposal, the "Mindanao Nationalist Party" that won most of the votes. It is here that the Mindanao Nationalist Party was finally formed.

Republic of Mindanao 1949-1967

In 1949, Gumbay Piang declared independence, this was the same year that Indonesia had gained independence. Salahuddin received the support of Indonesians for the independence of Mindanao. Ahmad was pronounced the President of the Republic of Mindanao, Salipada Pendatun his Vice President and Juan Sagun - who was the Prime Minister.

Piang sent the declaration to Manila and Jakarta. However, the Philippines did not recognize them as an independent state, and sent Filipino troops to the south to consolidate Mindanao and Sulu's status as Philippine territory. This would begin the Mindanao Independence War. Indonesia, however, recognized them but did not send troops, being that the country was new, impoverished and Sukarno wanted to maintain neutral relations with the Philippines and wished for the Philippines to reach the best solution. 

Republic of Philippines 1967-present

The Mindanao Free Army held out through four presidencies, until Ferdinand Marcos strengthened the presence of Philippine soldiers in Mindanao. In 1967, Karim Piang and Ferdinand Marcos signed the Mindanao Peace Treaty, in which the Philippine government would protect the native culture of Mindanao if they surrendered, effectively ending the Republic of Mindanao. Marcos, too, shared a mutual hate of Spanish culture and influence and saw the southern Filipino nationalists as a key figure who would could help the Philippine government hasten the Hispanophobic pogrom throughout the whole archipelago.

However, Marcos was accused of turning back on his promise and began government resettlement programs, sending waves of Ilocano, Visayan and Tagalog migrants en masse to Mindanao. Documents and wiretapped conversations found in 2015 had pointed that Marcos himself never ordered the resettlement program, and it was merely the work of Hispanophilic and anti-Moro government officials using his name. In reality, Marcos had actually sympathized and understood the Southern Philippine cause, sharing a mutual hate of Hispanic culture and influence in the Philippines. The insurgencies continued and the Filipino Armed Forces had actually given light on the idea of granting Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago their independence. However, Marcos refused and had made several attempts to explain his actions, it was too late and he had received the brunt of criticism and was portrayed as being a traitor to his promises. Eventually, the migrants began to outnumber the southern natives in many cities. By 1986, they formed the majority in General Santos City, Cagayan de Oro and Davao City - causing even more distrust between the settlers and natives of the Philippine south.

That same year, Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, even help even from opposing political parties such as the Conservative Party, a far-right party that promotes the full Latinizing and Catholicizing of all the Philippine islands. Corazon Aquino, the following President supported the native culture of Mindanao and established ties with the Partai Kebangsaan. The party also forged an alliance with the Lakas-CMD. With help of the Lakas-CMD, a fellow right-wing political party in Mindanao, Republic Act No. 5422 was passed which set limitations and restrictions of migrations of people to Mindanao. Migration was temporarily suspended for two years. This law was known to have saved Mindanao's native culture from becoming a minority.

Upon this, the Mindanao Nationalist Party began to garner support from the larger, mainstream and Luzon-based Nacionalista Party, who then adopted Malay as an official language of the party, to embrace a national conservatism in the Philippines by embracing all of the country's important languages. The Philippine government made a clear distinction between the Partai Kebangsaan Mindanao, as in the the Mindanao Nationalist Party, and the Partai Kebangsaan, the direct Malay-language translation of the name Nacionalista Party.

The next push was to officiate Malay in the Philippines, to accompany Filipino and English as official languages. In 2005, under the leadership of Mohamadal Baguinda, Republic Act. 5423 was passed under the presidency of Glorya Macapagal-Arroyo which allowed Malay to be taught in schools. It also allowed media in Mindanao to be broadcast in Malay. However, it lacked the support of major Philippine television stations such as ABC-CBN or GMA Network. Due to the lack of social support, Malay was and is virtually unknown outside of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, and overseas Filipino organizations continue to use and promote Filipino and English as their business languages, with the exception of those in Indonesia and Malaysia where most overseas Filipinos feel ethnically closer to the natives.

In 2012, after the the Philippines acquired Sabah, the Partai Kebangsaan was again, successful in accomplishing a major goal: the state officiating of Malay. The acquisition of Sabah from the Borneo War had doubled the size of the Philippines' Muslim population. It also incorporated an ethnic Malay population, in Sabah. Under the leadership of Halima Ashraf-Abdullah and the presidency of Gilbert Teodoro from thea Lakas-CMD Party, Republic Act No. 5424 was passed which designated Malay as a third official language of the Philippines. 

Despite Teodoro giving Sabah its independence in 2015, the president stated that Malay would retain its official status.

Name Change

In January of 2016, concerns about the party's name led to conventions and talks about an official name change. Proponents of the name change argued that the party not only catered to Mindanao, but the entire southern Philippines, in this case including the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan and Cebu and Bohol in southern Visayas and that supporters from these island groups feel excluded. Proponents also argue that the party has received a false reputation and image of being an Islamist party, even though clearly the party's goals are to protect all southern Filipino culture, including the Lumad Christians of the mountains, as well as any inhabitant of the south that supports the cause.

Several names were proposed, which included the Justice Party, the Moro-Lumad Alliance Party, Southern Alliance Party, the Salahuddin Party, the Southern Conservative Party, Partai Merdeka and the Southern Nationalist Party.

The Partai Merdeka, literally meaning the "Independent Party" in Malay, as well as the Southern Nationalist Party received the most votes. By a small and close margin, the Southern Nationalist Party was chosen to be the new official name. The changes went into effect on March 1, 2016.

Political and social beliefs

Same-Sex Marriage

Members of the Southern Nationalist Party are opposed to same-sex marriage, as it goes both against Islamic and Christian religious tradition. The party supports the banning of all LGBT activities in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, providing the one exception to the influence of Roman Catholic bishops, who share the same intent.

Culture and language

The biggest goal of the Southern Nationalist Party is to protect the natives cultures of Mindanao, Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan and to prevent assimilation of the aforementioned islands into mainstream Filipino culture. They aim the preserve the Malay language as the lingua franca of Mindanao, Sulu Archipelago, Palawan and Cebu preferring Malay over Filipino, seeing Filipino and English as mere languages to communicate with non-Moros, and Malay as the true unifying language of the south. 

The SNP also wants to restrict and limit Catholic Evangelical activities in Mindanao, stating that it is an offshoot of the Spanish Inquisition, whilst vowing to protect non-Catholic Christian sections, as well as native Lumad Catholics. While mainstream media views and portrays the SNP as being "anti-Catholic", it is only true when referring to the Spanish Catholicism practiced throughout the other parts of the country. 

Three of the biggest accomplishments of the Partai Kebangsaan was the passage of Republic Act. 5422 passed by president Corazon Aquino, which set severe restrictions and limitations on migrations of non-natives to Mindanao. The next was the passage of Republic Act. 5423 during the presidency of Glorya Macapagal-Arroyo, which allowed Malay to be taught as the language of education in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The first Malay-language news station, the Berita Selatan, opened in Cotabato City. In 2012, Republic Act. 5424 was passed under the presidency of Gilbert Teodoro which Malay became the third official language of the Philippines, alongside Filipino and English. Teodoro allegedly has Malay ancestors traced to be from Sumatra and the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia. 

Paradoxically, the SNP has recently embraced and adopted the Chavacano language, a Spanish-based Creole spoken in the southern Philippines and eastern Indonesia. Halima Abdullah explains that Chavacano originated in the Zamboanga Peninsula, and therefore is part of Southern Philippine culture. This is often seen as a gesture to gain sympathy and support from native Chavacano-speaking Catholics, who have historically been aligned with anti-Moro movements and in touch with their Latin-influenced culture.

Gun rights and "people's army"

The SNP also takes a rather pro-gun stance when it comes to gun rights and gun control. During the party and the de facto Mindanao Republic's founding, Ahmad Salahuddin established a unified armed resistance and also supported independent armed militant and vigilante groups, to protect communities in the island group.

When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, Ahmad Salahuddin and the SNP refused to surrender their weapons as per the conditions of surrendering sovereignty to the Philippines. Marcos reluctantly accepted the condition, supporting the right of the Moros to patrol their towns against Catholic extremists.

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of Davao City and 2016 president-elect, had stated his support of the SNP's vigilante group stance. Duterte works closely with vigilante groups funded by the SNP.

Farmers rights

Mindanao has a strong agrarian culture, and the SNP opposes government interference in the lives of rural people in Mindanao. As often as not, Mindanao has been referred to as the "breadbasket" of the Philippines. Many of the MNP's leaders and politicians belong to agrarian backgrounds, such as Gumbay Piang himself whose father was a wealthy but rural landlord. The movement heated up when rural land, owned by Moros and Lumads were being given to settlers from Visayas and Luzon. 

The Mindanao Agrarian Protection Organization (Malay: Mindanao Pertubuhan Peladang Perlindungan, Filipino: Proteksyon Samahan sa mga Magsasaka sa Mindanao) was formed by rural chiefs, both Moro and Lumad alike to protect Mindanao's agrarian culture. The durian industry is almost completely-controlled by Moros and Lumads.

Sovereignty

The SNP stresses in full sovereignty of the State, and opposes any foreign political interference. The SNP opposes the Philippines' membership in the Latin Union, as well as the Catholic Commonwealth. They also oppose Philippines-Spanish Friendship Day, and found the Mindanao Sovereignty Day to counter this holiday.

The SNP also spearheaded Philippines-Indonesia Friendship Day. 

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