MANILA, Philippines - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari never showed up at the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Conakry, Republic of New Guinea that ended yesterday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the OIC meetings concluded with Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis representing the Philippine government. “Usec Rafael Seguis just informed me that the OIC meetings are in their third and last day and about to end with the adoption of resolutions and closing speeches,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said. “Misuari has not showed up in the meetings, with the MNLF seat vacant,” he added.
Misuari was supposed to attend the 40th session of the OIC with observer status, being chairman of the MNLF.
The military, however, said Misuari is still in the country, contrary to earlier reports that he flew out to attend the OIC meeting.
The Bureau of Immigration confirmed their records do not show Misuari leaving the country.
Immigration spokesperson Ma. Angelica Pedro said Misuari last left the country on Jan. 9 and his last date of arrival was on Feb. 9, thus indicating that he is still here.
“As per records, he is here. He has no recorded recent departure,” Pedro said.
Pedro, however, clarified their records would only reveal departures from regular seaports and airports.
“We can say for certain that he did not pass through our ports of entry and exit,” she said.
There were earlier reports that Misuari was able to slip through the security forces’ cordon in Mindanao and exited the country through the southern backdoor.
Misuari reportedly traveled by sea and slipped into Southern Sulawesi in Indonesia before flying to the Middle East, where he was supposed to meet his family.
A senior MNLF official, however, said Misuari has not left the country and is hiding somewhere.
Habib Mujahab Hashim, chairman of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council, said Misuari’s chief of staff Ustadz Murshi had revealed the rebel chief is in the country but did not disclose his location for security reasons.
Hashim said Misuari has apparently kept mobile to avoid arrest.
“Considering he is being hunted, for sure he is being relocated to many areas,” Hashim said.
Misuari was among those charged with rebellion and violation of international law over the three-week siege in Zamboanga City that left hundreds of people dead and homeless last September. – With Roel Pareño, Evelyn Macairan