Nation


MNLF, MILF reject ISIL call for jihad




Posted on July 14, 2014


THE MORO National Liberation Front (MNLF) and, more so, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which recently struck a peace deal with the Philippine government, have no plans to answer the call for support by a militant group gaining momentum in its jihadist campaign in Iraq and Syria.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has called on fellow Muslims to join their campaign after declaring a caliphate late last month, clearly in reference to the caliphs that ruled in Islam’s classical eras.

In Islamic terms, a caliphate is a Muslim community or ummah and its leader is called a caliph. Followers of the Prophet Muhammad were formed into such collective entities until well into the Middle Ages of European history.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice-chairman for political affairs, said his organization will not send troops to join the fighting being waged in the Middle East by the Islamic State.

Hindi kami magpapadala ng tao dun. Marami kaming tauhan -- in the thousands na well-trained at experienced, pero di kami magpapadala. Ang focus namin ngayon ay yung negotiation with the Philippine government sa settlement ng Bangsamoro Region,” Mr. Jaafar told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

(We will not send our troops there. We have experienced and well-trained troops in the thousands but we will not send them. Our focus is on the negotiations with the Philippine government regarding the Bangsamoro Region.)

He said the MILF leadership is calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Dapat i-resolve ’yun through peaceful means, through negotiations. Pag bakbakan ng bakbakan, walang katapusan, hindi natatapos. Marami din civilians na nadadamay,” Mr. Jaafar said.

(The problem should be resolved through peaceful means, through negotiations. There will be no end to fighting and fighting. Many civilians are also affected.)

The MNLF also said they will not answer the call to jihad, or rather the fundamentalist understanding of this Islamic pillar that is also akin to soul-searching or self-knowledge.

Ang MNLF ay may mga local problems din... Kasama na diyan yung warrant of arrest ni Chairman Misuari. We are trying to resolve that. We are really placed on the wall at di makapag-open ’yung leadership namin dahil dun,” MNLF spokesman Emmanuel C. Fontanilla told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

(We have local problems too. One of these is the warrant of arrest for Chairman Misuari. We are trying to resolve that. We are really placed on the wall and our leaders cannot open up on certain issues.)

Mr. Fontanilla also said the MNLF is not aware of the “true situation” in Iraq and is not in a position to respond accordingly.

“We have to know and to learn first [the] background [of this] problem,” he said.

Since its organization in 1969, the MNLF has engaged the Philippine government in its secessionist struggle, both in the battlefields and in the back rooms of peace negotiations.

Over the years, the group has also been broken up by various factions, the biggest of which is the MILF.

In 1996, the MNLF entered into a peace deal with the government that effectively integrated its leader Nur Misuari into the political mainstream as governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

But Mr. Misuari’s leadership has not led to a transformation of this region, which is still mired in corruption and warlordism.

Meanwhile, the MILF has been making progress in its talks with the government, to Mr. Misuari’s vocal consternation. Rebels identifying themselves with Mr. Misuari lay siege to Zamboanga City in September last year.

Another breakaway group in the secessionist movement, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, claimed last week it has sent a contingent of 200 fighters to Iraq. Amid this background, police and immigration agents arrested

Australian jihadist preacher and ISIL supporter Robert Edward “Musa” Cerantonio early morning Friday at Barangay Ibo, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu. -- Alden M. Monzon