Nur justifies drive vs Sayyaf

Rudy Santos, Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari yesterday justified the offensives against Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu, saying their illegal activities have become

“Kidnapping of people and selling them like cows are intolerable and this could not be accepted,” Misuari told a news conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“We don’t like to harbor criminal activities in our homeland because it is against the law of God, against the laws of Islam, and against the Koran,” he said.

Misuari, who arrived from a meeting with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo, said the MNLF wanted to restore order in Sulu and neutralize the criminal elements in the region.

“Sulu is becoming the haven for criminal activities victimizing not only locals and foreigners who are coming to our area and they are making profits out of it, and they go as far as Tawi-Tawi looking for their next victim,” he said.

Misuari alleged that the government has created a monster in the Abu Sayyaf in collaboration with the Malaysian government.

“(This is) according to my information,” he said.

“Our people in the MNLF had been waiting for years for possible action on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Philippine government (to deal with the problem of Abu Sayyaf),” he said.

Misuari said the MNLF will take the initiative to restore peace.

“We will restore peace in our homeland with or without the Philippine government, we will do it ourselves,” he said.

“We will wipe out all traces of kidnapping in our area. The government spent billions of pesos to stop this but nothing happens,” he added.

Malacañang on Friday said the MNLF has to explain its actions against the Abu Sayyaf and warned that the government will enforce the law once civilians are affected by the fighting.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said President Aquino did not sanction the MNLF actions against the Abu Sayyaf.

A senior MNLF official, on the other hand, called on Malacañang to stop pointing to violations committed by the MNLF in going after the Abu Sayyaf.

“We are helping the government and now they are putting the blame on the MNLF,” said Habib Mudjahab Hashim, chairman of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council.

Hashim said the government should instead look at the positive side of their operation to get rid of the Abu Sayyaf and stop its kidnappings in Sulu.

He said there were no violations to the 1996 peace agreement with the government because the operation was internal as their targets were former MNLF guerrillas who joined the bandits.

“We would like to call on the authority of Malacañang that (this offensive against the Abu Sayyaf) is an internal problem of the MNLF. Internal, notwithstanding the fact that we fought against our former comrades who joined the Abu Sayyaf. They are Muslims also,” Hashim said.

According to Hashim, the problem with the Abu Sayyaf has not been addressed since the administration of former President Fidel Ramos.

“The MNLF is helping because the government did not solve the Abu Sayyaf problem. We can solve this. This is an initiative of the MNLF; we would like to clean Sulu of the constant problem of kidnapping-for-ransom in the area,” he said.

Hashim assured the public that the MNLF is working to peacefully settle the conflict with the Abu Sayyaf.

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