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Cotabato vice mayor denies backing MILF renegade rebels

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RENEGADE Moro rebel leader Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema on Wednesday broke his silence over claims by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that he was one of several Maguindanao politicians who instigated the Aug. 5 attacks by followers of renegade Moro leader Ameril Umbra Kato.

Sema, who also heads a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, said the MILF’s claim, which was posted on the rebel group’s website, was “wrong, false, unfounded and unbelievable.”

“We have nothing to support Umbra Kato for in terms of money and firearms. We have thousands of brothers who are experiencing difficulties. Talking about military logistics, I would rather arm our own brothers (in the MNLF) than anybody else,” Sema told a local radio station.

He said he had written MILF chair Murad Ebrahim about the allegations and called his attention to “the imbalance practice of journalism” on www.luwaran.com. “Maybe the leadership was not aware of it,” he said.

The attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and subsequent action by government forces resulted in the deaths of more than 80 people. They included 10 soldiers and five civilians, according to the military. The rest were BIFF members, said Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division.

Officials said the violence displaced more than 47,000 individuals in at least five towns.

Randolph Parcasio, MNLF legal counsel, said the MILF’s claim was provocative.

Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, said the MNLF should explain how MNLF uniforms, complete with MNLF insignias, turned up in BIFF camps the military has captured.

“Apart from that, we monitored that MNLF followers in Maguindanao reinforced the BIFF during the clashes,” Al Haq said.

Asto said the military also received reports of MNLF support for Kato’s men but could not verify them.

Earlier, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who was also being linked to the BIFF, said he must have been misunderstood when he when he called for a dialogue with Kato and his followers.

Mangudadatu said his critics started circulating false information that he was financially supporting Kato after he suggested that the renegade MILF leader should also be invited to the peace process.

Magudadatu said the former MILF leader, who broke away from the rebel group due to serious disagreements over the conduct of the peace talks in 2010, commands a following and violence could not be contained unless he joined the peace process.

“Does this mean I’m a Kato coddler, that I’m a Kato protector?” Mangudadatu asked.


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Tags: Ameril Umra Kato , Cotabato City , MNLF , Moro Islamic Liberation Front , Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema


  • paul

    vice mayor musta n pala un kaso mong kidna%%ping? di b sangkot k rin dun? 



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