Misuari-led MNLF: We've begun journey of no return
Misuari is in a 'safe place' - Cerveza
MANILA - There is no turning back in the “war” initiated by the Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a spokesman of the group said.
Unless the government makes its move to come up with a peaceful solution, the “die is cast. We've begun on the river of no return…So for us, there is no solution anymore except for us to liberate the whole of Mindanao,” Rev. Absalom Cerveza told ANC.
He said he will not divulge where Misuari is now, noting only that he is "in a safe place."
Some have raised questions as to where Misuari is at this moment and why he has not been making himself visible after his men lay siege over parts of Zamboanga City on Monday.
Cerveza, however, noted: "Who are you to dictate what Nur wants. He wants to speak to government through me. He’s a revolutionary leader. He has to be protected. He’s in a safe place, otherwise the whole thing will be undermined by some people."
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier claimed Misuari is seriously ill.
Misuari's spokesman said questions on possible solutions to the problem should be directed to the government, which he claimed has decided "unilaterally" to end the peace talks with them. “There is war. Now, in the face of this situation, what does the government want? We know what we want, which is to become independent.”
He said they chose this route because of the decision of the government to drop the talks, contrary to what the peace panels are saying.
In a statement yesterday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said there is no truth to insinuations that the government has terminated its end of the deal in the Final Peace Agreement forged in 1996. She described the propaganda of the MNLF as "malicious."
"Clearly, the armed group that staged these violent attacks in Zamboanga City had genuine peace farthest from their minds. The group's willful intent to misunderstand and misrepresent the real status of the peace process was very clear," Deles said.
She said the government has continuously engaged the MNLF through a tripartite review process since the Aquino administration started. She said that in all these meetings, Misuari was present.
She said another meeting has been set for September 16 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesia heads the OIC-Peace Committee for Southern Philippines, where the MNLF is a member. The OIC-PCSP brokered talks between the two parties leading to the Final Peace Agreement.
Cerveza denied this, however. “This is not a unilateral [talk], but a bilateral deal. Lawyers will tell you that in bilateral deals, both parties have to be satisfied. I was in Davao yesterday. The committee of 12 of the [Organization of Islamic Conference] said they can’t do anything anymore. The government’s action is irrevocable, irreversible and final."
He said the MNLF will not reject any negotiator that comes to them for as long as the next move will not come from within their ranks.
“We would like to see that this situation will come to its fruition at the end of the day. However, we’re still human beings, we are civilized people. There’s always a chance we will listen to what is reasonable, what is beneficial to the best interest of our people.”
He declined to describe the civilians among their midst as “hostages.” He said they are being cared for and are not being used as human shields.
He said it’s a distortion of the “truth” that the civilians are being used as shields.
“This is part of war. If you understand what war is, you will understand that there are collateral damages.”
He said they are keeping the civilians safe.
"We will take care of the people inside…In Islam, there are rules that govern war. Our commanding general is a learned scholar. He understands the obligation to people caught in the crossfire. Nothing will happen to them."