MANILA, Philippines – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Friday denied that its leader, Nur Misuari, is involving the political organization in efforts to rescue kidnapped Jordanian Baker Atyani to boost his candidacy.
MNLF Spokesperson Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla lambasted Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, for saying that the MNLF's move to rescue Atyani and other foreign nationals held by the Abu Sayyaf is politically motivated.
Misuari is running for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao this coming election as an independent. He is running against ARMM officer-in-charge Mujiv Hataman of the Liberal Party and former Sultan Kudarat Rep. Pakung Mangudadatu of the United Nationalist Alliance.
"Ito po ay individual at personal niya na aksyon. So kami pong mga nandito posisyon ng MNLF, iyan ay ipinapaubaya naming personal kay chairman at wala, kami po'y walang nakikitang hindi mabuti kung tumutulong si chairman sa pamahalaan," Fontanilla told radio dzMM.
"The former Senator Biazon should not in any way ascribe any motive to anybody... The presumption of the law is everybody is doing good. Sana po huwag po tayong ganun lahat. Iyan ang mali sa atin eh, na kapag may mabuting nagagawa ang tao lahat po [sinasabi na] may masamang intensyon."
Fontanilla added that the help the MNLF is giving to the government is a result of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.
"Noon pang 1976 meron na tayong implied agreement. Napag-usapan na iyan - na kung kailangan ng tulong ng pamahalaan, mayroon tayong mutual support. Initiative na po namin ito," he said.
At least 22 MNLF and Abu Sayyaf bandits died in last Sunday's firefight, which allegedly erupted after negotiations to free Atyani failed.
Atyani still with Abu Sayyaf
Fontanilla also belied reports that Atyani had been released after the payment of a P100 million ransom even before his two Filipino companions, Rolando Letrero and Ramel Vela, were freed last Saturday.
"Wala pong mga ganun na dumarating sa'min. Dito po sa Sulu iyung mga information ay may mga misleading, counter-information, counter-propapaganda. Ito po sa amin naman sinasala namin. Itong mga information na nase-share namin, pumupunta pa sa Egypt para sa political affairs namin na chief naming si (Ghazali Jaafar) at binabalik po dito," he said.
"As of this time, ang latest namin na information - our commanders actually saw the Jordanian but they were not able to get him saka nakatakas po sila kasama ng mga Abu Sayyaf."
After announcing on Wednsday that the MNLF now has in its custody three kidnapped foreigners, Fontanilla said the political organization has decided to withhold information for the time being due to the "sensitivity" of the matter.
The military earlier denied that the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf had released the three foreigners to the MNLF.
"Ang sabi sa akin na hindi mo muna ako magko-comment, antayin na muna natin si chairman," Fontanilla said, referring to Nur Misuari who is currently in Egypt.
"Mag-antay na lang po tayo, huwag na lang po tayong mainip. Ito lang po ang sabihin sa side natin, ito po iyung dumating sa aming impormasyon. Maraming nagku-kwestyon. Antayin na lang po natin."