MNLF holding Atyani
Yesterday, two radio stations, DZBB and DZMM asked a certain Atty. Immanuel Fontanilla, said to be a trusted spokesperson of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari about the alleged "clash" of the ASG and MNLF fighters in Sulu which resulted in the deaths of 56 Bangsamoros.
According to this man, MNLF forces have already overran the Abu Sayyaf Group lair in Patikul Sulu. They have confirmed the alleged deaths of 11 MNLF fighters while about twenty or so ASG fighters also died. Among those who died were alleged four government agents or troops who fought side by side with the ASG. Fontanilla said ASG fighters, about 300 of them, have fled towards neighboring island of Basilan.
Fontanilla, speaking for and on behalf of the MNLF, even claimed that the MNLF has recovered three or four foreign hostages, but did not reveal their names. Fontanilla even claims that some or several political personalities are interested in these recovered hostages, but the MNLF is wont in turning them over to these people.
Many believe that Jordanian journalist Atyani is now among those recovered by MNLF forces.
Based on his interview, there seems to be an indication that the MNLF is waiting for the return of Nur Misuari, their chairman, before the MNLF will turn over these hostages to the government side. Many see this as a "leverage" to the MNLF considering the fact that the organisation was reportedly left in the lurch by the Aquino administration shortly after the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) entered into an historic understanding.
The MNLF wants nothing more than a part in the proposed Bangsamoro transitional council which was one of the bodies envisioned to manage the affairs of the Bangsamoro lands prior to the establishment of the Bangsamoro Islamic sub-state.
The MNLF is the recognized secessionist group by the international community since the Organisation of Islamic Conference or OIC conferred to it a belligerency status before. It has since fallen into power after Nur Misuari entered into an agreement with the Philippine government and headed the ARMM, reportedly a failed experiment.
When the negotiations between the GRP and the MILF went into full gear and was publicized, several MNLF leaders bewailed the reported "lack of interest" by the GRP in honoring the peace agreement the GRP entered with the MNLF which was reflected in the 1979 Tripoli agreement.
MNLF even threatened to derail peace talks.
Now, this clash between MNLF and the ASG--what does this mean? Does this mean that the MNLF wants nothing more than a share in the power to be handed over to the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government before the end of Pnoy's administration? Will the MNLF use as leverage, these hostages now under their security?