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MNLF built up army before Zamboanga clash

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is building up its army months before the rebel forces trooped to Zamboanga City and held hundreds of people hostages, new reports reaching the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed.

Such information has been relayed to the NBI just a day after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced that a team of Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors is now conducting a probe into the on-going, Zamboanga Siege for a possible filing of rebellion and sedition charges against the rogue members of the MNLF, which is headed by its founding chairman Nur Misuari.

In a report dated September 12, 2013, an NBI asset (name withheld) revealed that the MNLF is fortifying and increasing the number of its group by putting up recruitment areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay and Lanao del Norte.

Citing the accounts of community residents in the said provinces and those who were in the evacuation centers in Zamboanga City, the NBI asset said in the report that the recruitment of MNLF members may have started in the summer.

“Di lang confined ang recruitment sa Basilan, Sulu at Tawi-Tawi, maging sa Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, at sa Zamboanga Sibugay ay mayroon ding recruitment na nagaganap,” read a portion of the NBI report obtained by the Manila Bulletin.

The report, however, did not indicate the present number of MNLF rebel forces.

So far, the NBI report showed that there are at least five commanders leading the MNLF in the Zamboanga siege.

The report identified four of the five MNLF leaders as Commander Haber Malik, who led the rebel troops in Barangay Sta. Barbara; Commanders Uztadz Hassim Asimin and a certain Commander “Ugong,” who led the MNLF forces in Barangay Talon-Talon; and Commander Ismael Dasta, the lone leader of MNLF rebels in Barangay Sta. Catalina.

Meanwhile, the NBI reported that government forces were able repulse the rouge MNLF rebels to Barangay Rio Hondo as the former takes a foothold over Barangay Sta. Barbara, which was already “under control of the government.”

But taking control of Barangay Sta. Barbara did not come easy as expected as military troops and the rebels, led by Commander Habier Malik and a still unknown commander, broke into a firefight on September 11, near a Muslim mosque.

“This is, so far, the heaviest firefight that occurred since day one. It was noted that there are already government troops situated just outside the NBI WEMRO (Western Mindanao Regional Office) that are not there before,” a separate NBI report said.

“Several explosions, coupled with a heavy exchange of gunfires, ensued between the two forces in Barangay Sta. Barbara,” it added.

In other parts of the city, the NBI reported terror gripped some residents of Barangay Sta. Maria, Barangay Pasonanca, and Barangay San Roque after they sighted unknown suspicious group of persons.

Residents were advice to stay in their homes and never to entertain unknown individuals, according to the NBI report.

  • Jerry Lynch

    “Meanwhile, the NBI reported that government forces were able repulse the rouge MNLF rebels…” Surely the writer means “rogue,” not “rouge” which means “red.”