The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday denied that former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari is in West Africa to attend the Organization for Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting there.
Citing reports from Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said that the observer seat of the MNLF has been vacant since the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting started on Monday, December 9.
The meeting will end today, December 11.
“I just talked to Usec. Seguis who is now in Conakry, Guinea attending the OIC meetings. He said he and other delegates have not seen Misuari in the meetings which is in its second day now and the MNLF observer seat has been vacant,” Hernandez said.
This was despite a claim from Misuari’s spokesman, Emmanuel Fontanilla, that the MNLF leader is in West Africa after being able to slip the security forces’ cordon in Mindanao and exit through the southern Philippines’ backdoor.
He apparently reached Sulawesi in Indonesia by sea to catch a flight to the Middle East and meet his family there.
The OIC sent a letter of invitation to Misuari dated November 24 to attend the said meeting as the “sole” representative of the MNLF, which has a permanent observer status in the conference.
The Philippines has also been trying to apply for a similar status in the OIC, but the MNLF has reportedly blocked these attempts since there was “no need” for the country to be part of the Islamic group.
Misuari is facing charges for violation of the Philippine International Humanitarian Law, genocide and other crimes in against humanity in connection with the three-week siege in Zamboanga City in September.
He, together with 11 of his lieutenants, staged a siege in his bid for independence from the central government. Amid the crackdown on the rebels, Misuari escaped and remained at large while some 200 of the MNLF members were captured and put in jail. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON