Lahad Datu: ‘MNLF men may be part of incursion’
Monday March 11, 2013
PETALING JAYA: Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari said it was possible that MNLF members were part of the self-styled Royal Sulu Army who had gone to Sabah.
However, he said they had done so without the permission or knowledge of the movement.
He said that when he had asked some of his “brothers” whether it was true that MNLF were with the group, the reply was that they might be as they also considered themselves soldiers and the security force of the Sultanate of Sulu.
“This means that when MNLF goes to war, they will be with us but when the Sultanate of Sulu embarks on a mission such as the incursion into Sabah, they will also go but without any permission from us,” Misuari said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Misuari said he was still trying to find out if one of MNLF’s former commanders was among the gunmen killed by security forces in Sabah.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar on Friday said one of the 31 gunmen killed was a leader of the invaders.
It is believed the man was a former MNLF commander known as Haji Musa, a former general of the Philippine army who had also served in Vietnam.
Misuari slammed Philippine President Benigno Aquino for claiming that outside parties were possibly involved in the incursion, saying there was no evidence of this.
On whether he had met any Malaysian Opposition leaders, he said he had meet with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim several months ago in Jakarta.
He said he requested for the meeting with Anwar to complain about Malaysia’s treatment of detained southern Philippine illegal immigrants, adding that no other matters were raised.
“He (Anwar) is the only fellow I know closely after my relations with Kuala Lumpur was estranged because of my arrest there,” said Misuari.
The former rebel leader was arrested in Sabah in 2001 and extradited to the Philippines on the request of the country.
Misuari, who still wields a degree of influence in the troubled southern Philippines, denied telling the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III that more gunmen who were no longer affiliated with the MNLF would come to the aid of the invaders.
He said what he told Jamalul during a press conference at the latter’s residence several days ago was that he would offer to help seek a meeting with Malaysian authorities to find a resolution to the crisis.
“But I don’t know whether a few more apart from those who are already involved in this incursion have weapons and are going in,” he said.
NUR MISUARI BACK ON JOLO, AMID NEW FIGHTING
|Reference id||aka Wikileaks id #107701 ?|
|Subject||Nur Misuari Back On Jolo, Amid New Fighting|
|Origin||Embassy Manila (Philippines)|
|Cable time||Fri, 11 May 2007 07:38 UTC|
|References||07MANILA1011, 07MANILA1187, 07MANILA1243, 07MANILA1366, 07MANILA407, 07MANILA923|
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001534
SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2017
TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PINS [National Security], PREL [External Political Relations], MY [Malaysia], RP [Philippines]
SUBJECT: NUR MISUARI BACK ON JOLO, AMID NEW FIGHTING
REF: A. MANILA 1366 B. MANILA 1243 C. MANILA 1187 D. MANILA 1011 E. MANILA 923
F. MANILA 407
Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Summary: The Makati Regional Trial Court temporarily permitted detained Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari to campaign for Sulu Governor in Jolo City May 11-14. Followers of rogue MNLF Commander Habier Malik clashed again May 8 with government security forces in Kalingang Caluang on Jolo Island. Pressure may be building on some MNLF commanders to support Malik, who remains on the run. Misuari apparently still harbors aspirations to "re-gain" Sabah from Malaysia. The Philippine government clearly hopes Misuari will be a force for peace and reconciliation over the long-term -- but probably not as Sulu governor.End Summary.
Court OKs Misuari to Jolo
¶2. (U) On May 9, Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Winlove Dumuyag issued written approval for detained MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to return to Jolo City May 11-14 to campaign for Sulu Governor and to cast his votes. He intends to hold at least one political rally in Jolo City. The judge denied requests for him also to visit Luuk, Siasi, and Pangaturan May 10-20. The Court is also unlikely to approve a motion to allow Misuari to accept an invitation to the May 15-17 Organization of Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad, Pakistan. However, Judge Dumuyag scheduled Misuari's bail hearing for June 21. Exceptionally, the hearing will took place in the house where Misuari is serving his detention.
¶3. (C) Armed Forces of the Philippines National Capital Region Commander Major General Ben Dolorfino -- the most senior AFP Muslim and the chief of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group with the Moro Islamic National Liberation Front - told poloff that he had personally encouraged Misuari to run for governor and had advised him to attack incumbent Sulu Governor Benjamin Loong for engaging in "un-Islamic practices," including embezzlement of Internal Revenue Allotment funds, corruption, alcohol consumption, gambling, and absenteeism from official duties. MG Dolorfino said that he had also advised Misuari to criticize the other gubernatorial candidate - former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan - for engaging in many of the same "un-Islamic practices," in addition to drug trafficking.
¶4. (U) Renewed fighting erupted in Jolo on May 8 between AFP troops and followers of rogue MNLF Commander Habier Malik (reftels). AFP Western Mindanao Command Information Officer Eugenio Batara told the press that the fighting began during the early morning in Barangay Kambing of Kalinggalang Kaluang.
¶5. (C) MG Dolorfino, whom Malik briefly held captive in February (ref f), described the current political and security situation on Jolo as "very delicate." Dolorfino commented that, while Malik remains isolated and on the run, pressure is building among some MNLF commanders to support Malik in the face of mounting MNLF casualties. He commented that if Malik is "pushed to the wall," the potential exists that other MNLF elements on Jolo, Basilan, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and/or in central Mindanao will enter the fray. Dolorfino instead welcomed efforts by the Philippine National Police to bring Malik to justice based on a new arrest warrant for Malik. Attorney Jainal separately predicted that Malik would never allow himself to be captured alive by government security forces and that Malik's death would likely embolden other MNLF members to fight.
Dreaming of Sabah...?
¶6. (C) MNLF Attorney Ombra Jainal described Misuari as a MANILA 00001534 002 OF 002
strong advocate for the recovery of Sabah from Malaysia and as still bitter toward Malaysia for arresting and turning him over to Philippine authorities in January 2002. Misuari once commented to MG Dolorfino that when the timing was right, "the MNLF could invade Sabah at 5 a.m. and control it by 7 a.m." Misuari has also reportedly claimed that he personally was a legitimate claimant to Sabah by virtue of his "royal blood," and has blamed "Malaysia's agents" for stirring up trouble in Sulu.
¶7. (C) Self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Fuad Kiram granted Misuari the hereditary rank of "Datu" (Royal Prince) of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) at Misuari's detention house on March 14. Kiram attended the March 18 MNLF Freedom Day Anniversary Celebration at Malik's then-camp in Bitanag as guest of honor, where Malik called him the only "true and legitimate" Sultan of Sulu and Sabah, according to Kiram's chief advisor, Omar Kiram.
¶8. (C) MG Dolorfino commented that Malaysia is not only concerned about Misuari's intentions toward Sabah, where Misuari apparently still has hundreds of followers, but also about his recent contacts with Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim, described as an "old friend" of Misuari's. Over the past several months, Malaysian officials have held at least three meetings with Misuari and/or Misuari's wives, according to Jainal and Dolorfino. During an April 10 meeting, a special envoy from Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Misuari not to meddle in Malaysia's domestic politics, Dolorfino said. According to Jainal, Misuari promised Badawi's representative that he had no intention of getting involved in Malaysia's internal affairs.
¶9. (C) Dolorfino opined that Malaysia would likely seek stronger assurances that Misuari would not pursue the Sabah claim. He added that Malaysia had promised to facilitate an eventual power sharing agreement between the MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the GRP-MILF Peace Panels reached an ancestral domain agreement.
¶10. (C) Despite his checked past, Nur Misuari retains considerable respect among the MNLF as its founder and long-time leader, despite his rather ignominious term as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and his ongoing trial for sedition. The Philippine government clearly hopes he will be a force for peace and reconciliation over the long-term, but probably not as Sulu governor, unlikely as that now seems. His two competitors, Loong and Tan, have even stronger ties to different elements in the Arroyo Administration, which must ultimately find a path to peace with the MILF without treading on too many MNLF toes.
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