Zamboanga: MNLF unidentified forces?

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Monday, September 16, 2013


ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2013, the City of Zamboanga was attacked by several hundred MNLF soldiers under the command of Nur Misuari. The men intended to raise the “kris and crescent” flag of the MNLF atop Zamboanga City hall, and attacked Barangay Santa Catalina, killing about four people and taking hostages. – This is according to the AFP. Now, on the other hand, the MNLF and Nur Misuari themselves outright deny any involvement in the conflict.

Rltr. John Petalcorin, the MNLF director for Advocacy and Mindanao Independence Movement executive director, is saying that the men involved in the Zamboanga crisis are “counterfeit” MNLF and that all the genuine MNLF soldiers and non-combat personnel were ordered to stay home.

Petalcorin claims that the first MNLF boots on the ground in Zamboanga were not actually MNLF troops, initially had no idea what was going on, and were given their weapons and MNLF uniforms by the Philippine Navy.

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Petalcorin states: Around 100 ka tao galing Basilan na naniniwala sa Mindanao Independence, pinasakay sa malaking balsa kasi ipapa-attend daw sila ng MNLF meeting sa Zamboanga. May mga nakakita sa kanila sa Basilan na umalis daw mga yan na walang armas, walang MNLF uniform, at walang dalang MNLF flag. Pag dating sa gitna ng dagat, they had interaction with Phil Navy. Pag daong nila sa Zamboangan may mga nakakita sa kanila na meron na daw silang mga MNLF uniform ang iilan sa kanila at may mga armas na. Inutusan sila ng commander nila na Hussein pangalan na ang objective nila ay kunin ang munisipio at ilagay ang flag ng MNLF. Now, alam nyo na ang totoong estorya kung kaninong operation yan. Sa gitna ng dagat sila binigyan ng gamit at wala silang ibang kasusap sa gitna ng dagat kundi Phil Navy.

Petalcorin’s claim is that the Armed Forces of the Philippines organized this crisis to provoke a brand new war in Mindanao. His statement: The GPH (Government of the Philippines) used a fake MNLF and media to induce the genuine MNLF to jump into armed conflict. Opposite to their calculated effect, the genuine MNLF did not react according to their expectations, and have ordered all members to stay at home. At the end of this chaos, where will they get dead or arrested genuine MNLFs to present to the media if all of those they used are counterfeits?

During the morning of the attack, reports reached the MNLF that the Philippine Army was making large troop movements in and around the City of Zamboanga, and they responded by sending uniformed personnel to defend the city. When the MNLF arrived, they were surprised to find unfamiliar faces wearing MNLF uniforms that were trying to hoist a flag over Zamboanga’s city hall. As this “third party” of unaccountable personnel exchanged gunfire with government troops, the genuine MNLF who were sent to defend the area were ordered to return to their homes.

Petalcorin states: At around 1 p.m.-5 p.m., we started answering inquiries from the grounds with a decision that the Genuine MNLF will not bite into the False Flag Operation trap, that everyone of the Genuine MNLF in the streets must go home, that the priority is only to secure any high-level Genuine MNLF official in the area. By 6 p.m., there are no more Genuine MNLF in the streets; they have returned to their homes already. None of the Genuine MNLF have ever engaged the GPH Military/Police Troops.

Meanwhile, Nur Misuari, leader of the MNLF, has denied any involvement in the Zamboanga crisis. He blames it all on Haiber Malik, a top aide of Misuari who, as of this writing, cannot be accounted for. The MNLF itself has no idea where Malik is. Malik has had a record of hostage takings in the past; such as the time he held a Marine general and a government peace team for two days in Jolo in 2007, or the time he held then Major General Ben Dolorfino and his team hostage in Panamao town in 1996.

Misuari has disowned the actions of the men operating under the flag of the MNLF and said that he and his men are on standby and will not participate in what the MNLF believes is a government ploy to renew conflict in Mindanao.

However, the AFP insists that Misuari ordered the Zamboanga attacks, and is disputing the claim of the hostage takers that they were only planning to conduct a “peaceful rally” on that day.

Lt. Colonel Ramon Zagala states: “It is the belief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that Nur Misuari is the one behind these attacks.”

It is therefore quite odd that Petalcorin claims that the MNLF too, is suspicious of the “unidentified forces” in Zamboanga who stated that they were only there to attend an MNLF peace rally, since there was no MNLF peace rally scheduled for that day.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 16, 2013.

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