Maguindanao execs, Army assure Aquino most MNLF members loyal to peace accord

By Edwin Fernandez

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, (PNA) — Local government executives and the military here have assured President Aquino Saturday that Moro National Liberation Front members in the province remained loyal to the Sept. 2, 1996 government-MNLF final peace agreement.

The assurance was issued by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division following a meeting between the Army and Maguindanao town mayors.

Gathering here at the Army’s 6th ID headquarters, Mangudadatu and Gapuz, along with town mayors in Maguindanao’s 36 municipalities, told reporters that mayors and their constituents identified with the MNLF are closely coordinating with each other to prevent any spill over of the hostilities in Zamboanga City to the province.

The Army and local officials held a two-hour dialogue and discussed the peace and order situation of Maguindanao as conflict was on going in Zamboanga City.

Mangudadatu and Gapuz lauded former Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Sema, chairman of the largest and most politically active MNLF faction, for leading efforts to pacify their forces scattered in Maguindanao.

“We have the assurance of local MNLF commanders that they will not join their comrades in Zamboanga City,” Mangudadatu later told reporters.

Gapuz said the Army is closely monitoring and coordinating for a dialogue a group of MNLF forces in Ampatuan town who was monitored to have expressed sentiment over the Zamboanga incident.

“All of our efforts to prevent any spill over of the hostilities in Zamboanga City are being done according to Moro tradition of peace-building, which is actually done through dialogues and consensus-building,” Gapuz also told reporters after the closed-door meeting.

Sema, who has about 20 “revolutionary groups” of MNLF scattered in mainland Mindanao and in ARMM, have publicly said he and his followers are against the troubles being instigated by Misuari and his followers.

Sema is the husband of Maguindanao’s first district Rep. Bai Sandra Sema who is an ally of President Aquino in the Liberal Party.

“No cause for alarm. We’re enjoying tranquility in Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu said.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, meanwhile, has been monitored to have remained in their respective camps but closely monitoring the Zambaanga incident to ensure nobody from its ranks is lured into joining the group of Commander Malik, leader of Misuari groups who attacked Zamboanga City Sunday night.