From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 30): UN, OIC rein in Misuari
Told to hold secession plan at MNLF meeting
The United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Countries, through their representatives, stepped into the brewing conflict between the government and the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front on Monday by advising Misuari to hold off his plan to declare independence for Mindanao.
MNLF Peace Panel member Rev. Abasalom Cerveza said the UN and OIC intervention “temporarily” terminated the assembly called by Misuari to discuss the group’s next move following the reported abrogation of the peace accord that it forged with the government in 1996.
The UN was represented by Daniel Xavier and Van Dhel Sink. Cerveza did not name the OIC representative.
The meeting was attended by more than 2,000 MNLF regulars and supporters who arrived in Jolo aboard at least 50 pump boats to participate in the assembly held in Sitio Tampaki.
A military source said the MNLF rebels were unarmed and clothed in civilian attires.
The same source claimed that during the assembly, Misuari expressed his support to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Manila Islamic Liberation Front (GRP-MILF) agreement and debunked all allegations of the MNLF declaring independence for the region and was planning to commit atrocities in Mindanao.
Last week, Misuari received a notification letter from the Organization of Islamic Countries abrogating the 1996 peace accord, which sources said prompted the MNLF leader to call for the assembly.
As this developed, Malacanang has expressed doubts that the entire MNLF will support Misuari if he declares independence for Mindanao.
“I am not sure if it is the entire MNLF which is supporting secession,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda was referring to the MNLF split in 2001, with the Council of 15 led by former Cotabato Vice Governor Muslimin Sema ousting Misuari as chairman.
Sema led a delegation of the MNLF that attended the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in October last year.
Lacierda what the government seeks is the termination of the tripartite review mechanism which is being brokered by the Organization of Islamic Conference and not the 1996 final peace agreement.
The OIC recognizes both the Sema and Misuari factions of the MNLF.
Misuari had warned that the MNLF will declare an independent republic if the government abrogates the FPA.
Lacierda said the future peace pact with MILF will benefit all Bangsamoro people, including the MNLF.
“The framework agreement will benefit all Bangsamoro. We ask all people, all Bangsamoro to take a look at the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement. This is a major improvement over the organic act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and will redound ultimately to peace and development in Muslim Mindanao,” Lacierda said.
During the signing of the framework accord late last year, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim appealed to the MNLF to support the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity.
“We appeal to our MNLF breathren to support the framework agreement and take this historic journey with us. This is not the time for recrimination but the time for unity,” the MILF chief said.
Meanwhile, a civilian was killed as clashes between army troopers and Bangamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters forces rage on in Cotabato province.
The military said that their troops fought back after the rebels attacked army posts in two remote outposts in North Cotabato and Maguindanao past midnight Monday.
Killed was a certain Mr. Aruro, allegedly a nephew of an BIFF commander.
The military did not provide more details on the fighting, but a source said the firefight took place at the boundary of Midsayap, North Cotabato and Datu Piang, Maguindanao at around 1 a.m.
The source said that the BIFF attacked an outpost of the Civilian Volunteers Organization in Brgy Baliki, Midsayap but were repulsed by army troopers of the 40th Infantry Battalion who immediately responded to radio calls from the militiamen.
As the firefight broke out in Brgy Baliki, a separate BIFF force swooped down at Sitio Mirasol, in Bgy. Polomoguin in Midsayap town and started ransacking the homes of the residents in the area, ncluding their livestock.
Informed of another attack, the army troopers responded to the scene, triggering another clash that lasted for about two hours.
The rebels retreated but took some civilians with them to a motor boat to shield them from the attacking soldiers, and fled towards Rio Grande de Mindanao.
The hostages were released hours later.
In a related incident, a home-made bomb exploded Sunday inside the campus of the state-owned University of Southern Mindanao.
North Cotabato PNP provincial director S/Supt Danilo Peralta said the blast happened at 9 p.m. at the back of the university administration building. No one was hurt in the explosion.
Elements of the 63rd army’s Explosive and Ordnance Division are still conducting a probe to determine the type of explosive used. The explosion damaged the glass window of the building.
At least 10 explosions have been reported in Kabacan, North Cotabato since January.