From The Standard (Jan 9): Govt surprised by MNLF muster
THOUSANDS of armed Moro National Liberation Front fighters and affiliated groups massed up at Indanan, Sulu, Friday, taking government troops by surprise, and leading them to take up positions against a possible attack.
The military put its forces in Zamboanga City on high alert to prevent the repeat of the bloody fighting in the city on Sept. 8, 2013 that claimed the lives of more than 100 people including soldiers, MNLF rebels and civilians after nearly a month of bloody skirmishes.
MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari
The MNLF rebels swooped down on Astana, in Indanan, Sulu bearing independent state flags for the start of the two-days National Parliament and General Assembly conference in the province.
The meeting was based on the orders of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, Misuari’s directive was issued by Murshi Ibrahim, MNLF secretary general through a memorandum.
MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said that the meeting was preparatory for the upcoming Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting.
“The assembly is in preparation for Misuari’s attendance to the IPU meeting later this year in an Islamic country that at present is still unknown,” Cerveza said.
He also said that several items would be tackled during the general assembly but declined to give any details
The massing up of MNLF forces drew criticism from Zamboanga City Mayor Bing Climaco.
“Why is the government allowing Misuari to roam free, when in fact he has a warrant of arrest?”
Misuari is facing rebellion case after hundreds of armed followers stormed Zamboanga City displacing thousand of inhabitants.
Climaco said the rebels were crossing the city on their way to Indanan.
The military and police escorted the Sulu-bound MNLF rebels to ensure that they would not take up arms in the city, Climaco said.
On Sept. 8, 2013, the MNLF forces also massed-up at the coastal areas in Zamboanga City, which led to MNLF’s staging of attacks and occupation of key installations and residential buildings barely weeks after Misuari declared Mindanao independence that sparked bloody fighting with government forces.
Misuari was disgusted after the government entered peace negotiation with its rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front.