MALACAÑANG on Wednesday defended a self-proclaimed leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who served as panelist in a tripartite meeting to hasten the peace process in Mindanao.
Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles said Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, who is being accused of being an “impostor” by MNLF leaders, has the right to sit in the panel.
“We are still waiting for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] to convene the meeting. I’m directly in charge of this table,” Deles told The Manila Times.
Reacting to a warning by Ustadz Pendie Colano, the overall chairman of the Selatan State Revolutionary Committee, a sub-wing of the MNLF, that Alonto is parading himself as chairman of the MNLF Central Committee, the peace adviser said they are talking to all stakeholders.
“We are talking to all MNLF leaders including local ground commanders who are open and willing to cooperate with the government to bring just and lasting peace to Mindanao and improve the lives of their people,” Deles said.
Colano claimed that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s acceptance of Alonto as a panelist in the tripartite meeting was meant “to destroy the leadership of the MNLF.”
According to him, Aquino “did not even evaluate or validate information from the concerned MNLF organization if [Alonto] is a legitimate member of the MNLF.”
But Deles belied this, saying Alonto was, in fact, a co-founder of the MNLF.
“Alonto was a co-founder of MNLF, a member of the MNLF Top 90. He recruited [former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Nur]Misuari into the MNLF,” she pointed out.
According to her, the MNLF has split into several groups, causing an infighting among its leaders and followers.
“There is no single person who represents MNLF at this time as they have broken up into several factions. There are at least three claiming the title of central committee chairman, the latest being Alonto,” Deles also told The Times.
Originally scheduled for September 16, 2013, the tripartite meeting was postponed indefinitely.
The meeting aims to review the 1996 peace deal between the Ramos administration and the MNLF.
Also on Wednesday, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) downplayed claims that 4,000 of its members have joined the MNLF.
“This is plain propaganda and the handiwork of people opposed to the attainment of peace in Mindanao,” Von Al Haq, spokesman for the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), said.
Al Haq was reacting to Colano’s claim that four MILF commanders and their followers rejoined the MNLF.
“There is no valid reason for MILF members to shift to another Moro front in Mindanao because our men are all aware of our struggle and the outcome of the peace process since they were part of it,” he said.
Al Haq dismissed claims of Colano that Malaysia acted as mediator in the peace process with the MILF because it wants to retain Sabah.
“There is no basis [for]such claim, we consider them [MILF] as anti-peace and that the issue of Sabah was not part of the MILF peace process,” he said.
Al Haq noted that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is inclusive, therefore it includes the MNLF and all other inhabitants of Mindanao.
The CAB was signed by the government and the MILF in March this year.