Search This Blog

Monday, January 11, 2016

MNLF and Abu Sayyaf militants turned up for Nur Misuari's meet

COTABATO CITY – Fugitive Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) reportedly presided over a meeting of mixed MNLF loyal followers and combatants of the outlawed Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu last week, eluding field government security forces long wanting him recaptured.

“A large group of mostly heavily armed MNLF and Abu Sayyaf rebels turned up for the assembly called for by Misuari on Friday in Indanan town, Sulu,” Zamboanga City-based journalist Al Jacinto, quoting local sources, said in a report published Sunday.

The Friday meeting was reportedly meant for Misuari to discuss with his loyal followers and sympathizers his desire to attend an upcoming Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva.

Government forces “missed the opportunity to arrest the elusive Nur Misuar,” Jacinto said. The MNLF founding chairman has also been charged for the bloody attacks in Zamboanga City in 2001 and 2013, where hundreds of casualties were reported.

The 2013 Zamboanga City siege alone left some 190 people killed, more than 200 others wounded and over 19,000 individuals displaced. A considerable number of the displaced people have remained in evacuation camps, raising local and foreign humanitarian bodies’ concerns for their welfare in substandard conditions.

According to reports from UN agencies, several houses were destroyed by fire, and schools, airports and businesses were all shut down as a result of the siege that lasted for 20 days.

Quoting local sources, Jacinto said the Friday assembly “prompted the military to declare a red alert status in Sulu for fear the MNLF and Abu Sayyaf groups might launch fresh attacks against government targets.”

Suspected to have been long hiding in Sulu, Misuari “managed to pass through military checkpoints and gathered the rebel forces for the plenum undetected.”

Misuari, now in his mid-70s, signed the MNLF’s Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the government in Sept. 1996, a few days before then President Fidel Ramos had convinced him to run for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the 1997 elections, which he won easily with massive state party backing.

Under the FPA, the Philippine government was to provide a mini-Marshal Plan for economic development in ARMM areas, including livelihood and housing assistance to thousands of former rebels to improve their living conditions.

Accusing the government of not fully implementing the intent and spirit of the 1996 FPAI, Misuari and his loyal forces and former MNLF rebels attacked a key military base in Jolo town.

Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, where he was eventually arrested and deported to the Philippines. He was subsequently pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo, in exchange for MNLF support on her election bid and her allies in 2004.

But the so-called MNLF Council of 15, a body allegedly orchestrated by the Arroyo administration in its bid to gain an observer seat at the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), ousted Misuari as chairman.

MNLF foreign affairs Chief Parouk Hussin, a Council of 15 key official, was elected ARMM governor in 2001 with full backing from the Arroyo administration. Maguindanao-based Muslimin Sema, another Council of 15 co-founder, led the MNLF as its new chairman.

In 2014, Abul Khayr Alonto, one of MNLF founders who helped install Misuari as founding chieftain, was elected new MNLF chair by surviving members of the front’s “Top 90” original cadres.

Alonto and Sema have manifested official support on the government’s current peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was founded in by now deceased Ustaz Salamat Hasim after bolting from the MNLF in 1980s. Misuari remains opposed to the government-MILF peace dealings.

by Ali G. Macabalang (10 Jan 2016)

No comments:

Post a Comment