DESPITE an outstanding warrant for his arrest, Nur Misuari gathered 2,000 fighters loyal to him at his home in Camp Astana in Indanan, Sulu, to install his son as vice chairman of his faction of the Moro National Liberation Front.
Wanted for leading the bloody siege of Zamboanga City in August 2013 in which more than 200 people were killed, Misuari also expressed satisfaction at the failure of Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law that was hammered out by the government and the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“They had no hostile action plan. They were busy with their reorganization because they have a new leader and they were happy that the BBL was not passed, because that improves the chances that their 1996 final peace agreement will be implemented,” said Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu.
During the assembly, Misuari installed his son, Haji Uto Karim, as vice-chairman of their faction, Arrojado said.
“The agenda of the meeting focused on the results of the tripartite review conducted in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, [on]... the implementation of the 1996 final peace agreement and their struggle for their own version of Bangsamoro independence in Mindanao,” he added.
The assembly adjourned at 4 p.m. and the participants returned “to their respective places of origin,” Arrojado said.
“As observed, there was no mention of any future hostile actions from the MNLF leadership,” Arrojado said.
A military intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, said that some of the groups that joined the assembly were “leaders and members of lawless groups” such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a splinter group of the MILF.
MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said Misuari was hopeful that the next administration would consider fully implementing the 1996 Jakarta peace accord between the government and the MNLF.
“If the government will continue to pursue the passage of the BBL, it would be disastrous,” Cerveza said.
Cerveza described Misuari’s oldest son, in his late 30s, as “more radical than his father” and the holder of a masters degree in Arabic and Sharia Law from Libya.
He said the appointment of the younger Misuari might be in preparation for his father’s exit.
“Misuari is diabetic but his ailment is manageable,” Cerveza said. “But, in case he doesn’t want to continue or he dies, the young Misuari could eventually replace him.”
In the Jan. 28 tripartite review of the 1996 peace agreement in Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Islamic Conference and representatives of the Philippine government and the anti-Misuari faction of the MNLF expressed support for the peace process initiated by President Benigno Aquino III with the MILF and for the passage of the BBL.