Zamboanga on alert vs MNLF intrusion

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2016 12:38 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2016 11:54 AM

MANILA - The Zamboanga City government is on high alert after members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were seen making their way through the city.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle "Beng" Climaco said Friday that unarmed MNLF members from Sarangani province have started crossing the city yesterday on their way to Indanan, Sulu for a tripartite meeting.

Climaco said the police and military escorted the MNLF to Sulu-bound sea vessels to make sure the MNLF will not take up arms while in the city.

She said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was clueless about the activities of the MNLF.

She said the OPAPP must determine whether MNLF leader Nur Misuari should be considered a fugitive, and if his group should be barred from gathering.

"Kung mayroon po talaga siyang order of arrest, bakit po sila pinahihintulutan magkaroon ng gathering doon? Iyun po ay hindi namin masagot," Climaco said.

Misuari faces a rebellion case and violation of international humanitarian law after hundreds of his armed followers attacked Zamboanga City in September 2013, displacing thousands of families.

Since then, Misuari has reportedly been hiding in MNLF camps in Sulu province.

READ: Amnesty for Nur Misuari sought

Climaco said her constituents are still worried that violence may erupt anew as more MNLF members are expected to continue crossing Zamboanga to and from Sulu.

"Ang tanong natin, ano talagang plano nila roon at anong mangyayari pagbalik nila rito? Kung pwede, huwag na lang po silang dumaan ng Zamboanga City para mas maging mas mapayapa, tahimik ang mga tao," she said.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway Muslim rebel group, killed 10 civilians in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao last Christmas eve. The BIFF also attacked three Army detachments in Maguindanao on January 1.

The series of bloody attacks have prompted the evacuation of affected families.