MILF commander denies involvement in clash

By Lore Mae L. Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Feb 03 2015 04:30 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2015 03:16 AM

MAGUINDANAO - The commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) 118th Base Command denied involvement in the January 25 clash between rebels and police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Ustadz Abdulwahid, known as Wahid Tundok, granted ABS-CBN an exclusive interview in a village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, where a camp of the 118th Base Command is located.

Tundok said he wanted to clear the air over reports that he and his men were involved in the recent clash between MILF's 105th Base Command and SAF troopers in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town.

He stressed that he directed all his men not to make any move when they heard the heavy exchange of fire on January 25.

"Tanong nila sa akin, 'Ustadz? Ano ba yung mga putok na naririnig natin?' Sabi ko sa kanila, 'Walang aalis o gagalaw. Mag-ipon lang tayo. Walang mag-move para hindi tayo madamay o masali diyan.' Sabi ko, 'Maghintay tayo ng mga confirmation o balita," Tundok said.

He said he was later reached by the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the MILF as well as the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to help them talk to those involved and stop the firefight.

The Philippine government and the MILF entered a truce years ago and have adhered to that ceasefire agreement while peace negotiations are ongoing.

Tundok said he is puzzled why his name surfaced as among those involved in the firefight.

He stressed he did not have any knowledge on the whereabouts of terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan prior to the operation launched by the SAF commandos.

"Nakikita namin pangalan niya o naririnig, pero hindi namin siya nakita. Di rin namin alam saan siya dahil kapag hinahanap ka ng gobyerno, palipat-lipat ka," he said.

The commander also clarified that he does not have any pending case, as of posting.

Last year, Tundok was arrested by elements of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit in Cotabato City for murder charges.

He said his warrant of arrest has been recalled. He showed his release order to the media.

According to Tundok, the clash in Mamasapano could have been avoided if only there was coordination with the MILF.

He lamented that the MILF has been placed in the hot seat, putting the peace process at risk, following the encounter.

Still, he said he still has high hopes for the Bangsamoro.

He said an "all out war" is not a solution.

He said he does not want his children to experience what he has gone through.

Tundok, a known MILF commander, is focused on mediating conflicting MILF forces and exposing the children in their community to the right teachings of Islam.

He said he will continue to uphold the peace process.

He said he will wait for the outcome of the investigating team formed by the MILF leadership.