CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Ben Balce/March 27) — Over a hundred former leaders and members of the Moro National Liberation Front Saturday launched a National Unified Command under which all MNLF forces in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were placed.
"MNLF as strong as before." Hundreds of armed supporters of Misuari gather at Lanao camp.
The NUC said it is backing the Sulu gubernatorial bid of former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari.
"The MNLF soldiers always back Nur’s principles and leadership until now," said Alexander Marohombsar Lagawa, NUC commanding general and a close aide of Misuari.
Misuari, former ARMM governor, was allowed out of detention on March 20 to file his candidacy.
MNLF field commanders mounted a show of force during the NUC launching at the 3rd MNLF Mobile Army at Camp Jabal Nur in Madamba, Lanao del Sur.
"The NUC is not waging war against the government but on poverty and the need for meaningful and sustainable development for Mindanao," said Lagawa.
The MNLF’s armed regulars composed of hundreds of reformists and splinter groups converged at Camp Jabal Nur with their high-powered firearms, including .50 and .30 caliber machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
In a press conference attended by mediamen from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the MNLF commanders presented a manifesto demanding that government grant full liberty to Misuari.
"No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations," Lagawa told MNLF leaders at the tightly secured Camp Jabal Nur, one of the group’s active camps in Mindanao.
"The MNLF is as strong as before," Lagawa also said.
Zainoding Dimalutang, NUC spokesman and deputy commander, said the Organization of Islamic Conference has asked government to free Misuari.
NUC spokesman and deputy commander Zainoding Dimalutang (left) exchanging words with Cagayan de Oro Journal editor Ben Balce (right) during NUC launching in Camp Jabal Nur in Lanao del Sur.
He said the MNLF, which signed a peace pact with government in 1996, was the first Moro organization to gain observer status in the OIC through the efforts of Misuari.
"As we renew our camaraderie and alliances, we also celebrate the continuing friendship of the MNLF with the stakeholders of Mindanao, with the government and media," Dimalutang also said.
Misuari was charged with rebellion for allegedly leading an MILF uprising in 2002. He fled to Malaysia but was arrested and repatriated.
Cagayan de Oro Journal