HABIER Malik, most trusted lieutenant of Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari, is presumed dead as there is no evidence to show that he has slipped past the cordon of government security forces in Zamboanga City.
This was the assumption of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office as police and military forces finished with the clearing operations in eight barangays of Zamboanga City invaded by the MNLF rebels on September 9.
“He (Malik) could be one of those na nasunog or nailibing sa conflict area... Pero sa legal aspect, sinama pa rin namin siya sa kaso because we consider him as a prime (suspect) at large,” said Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office.
He said the PNP crime laboratory gathered the DNA samples of the dead MNLF rebels and will compare these with those of relatives of Malik.
Based on questioning of captured MNLF rebels, Huesca said that Commander Salic Idjal was able to talk to Malik in the conflict area the day before he was captured. He said Idjal was captured on September 21.
Huesca, however, said Idjal and the other rebels do not know the exact place where Malik was last seen since they are not so familiar with Zamboanga City as they are from Sulu and Basilan.
Huesca said the clearing operations were officially declared over last Monday.
He said policemen who comprised Task Force Suyod were given commendations on Tuesday, which include Medals of Merit, Commendation Medals, and Efficiency Medals.