Authorities free captured MILF chief

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippines has freed a senior commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arrested by the police in the southern region of Mindanao following a protest by the country’s largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with Manila.

Mohagher Iqbal, the Front’s vice chairman and chief peace negotiator, said Ustadz Wahid Tundok has been released by the authorities. “Ustadz Wahid Tundok is freed,” he told The Manila Times.

He earlier said that Tundok’s arrest was illegal because he is covered by the ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.

The two sides are currently negotiating peace and Iqbal earlier said the illegal arrest of Tundok may affect the peace process.


Tundok and several of his followers came from a meeting at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town and was heading back to his base when his truck was intercepted by police forces in Cotabato City on February 23.

Iqbal said Tundok’s arrest should have not happened, but police insisted the rebel leader is facing a string of criminal cases from arson to murders. When asked if the MILF is elated or satisfied over the release of Tundok, Iqbal said: “Not much, because that should not happen at all.”

Iqbal said the rebel leader may have been set up and his movements monitored that led to his arrest. “This could be a set up by those who are opposing the peace process,” he said, adding Tundok is a loyal MILF leader and supportive of the peace talks with government.

Iqbal said another MILF commander, Yusoph Kusain, was also killed by police forces in Maguin–danao’s Datu Paglas town following a shootout. The police was trying to arrest Kusain on various criminal cases when the fighting erupted.

Police and military also linked Tundok to Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato, who led a series of attacks in the past against civilian and military targets in Mindanao.

But Abu Misry Mama, a spokesman for Kato’s group, said Tundok was never part of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and its armed wing the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. “He is a leader of the MILF and never was part of our group,” Mama said.

There was no immediate statement from the police or the military about Tundok’s release. The MILF has been fighting decades for self-determination.

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  1. The problem with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) they escaped from criminal charges at the expense of the peace negotiation process even their field commanders on the ground facing numerous cases of murder, multiple murder, double murder and other heinous crime it turned out useless. And the government allowed this kind of practices, what about the NPA who were also facing heinous crime, are they be freed if GPH-NPA negotiation is on going? what kind of judicial system we have?.