Aquino walks tightrope in Abu-MNLF clashes


After years of fighting the government from hidden jungle bases in Mindanao, an al-Qaida-linked bandit group is facing a new adversary: fellow Moro insurgents who can match their guerrilla battle tactics and are eager to regain their lost stature by fighting the widely condemned terrorist group.

The emerging enmity between the Abu Sayyaf bandits and the Moro rebels could bolster a decade-long campaign by the Philippines and Western countries to isolate the al-Qaida offshoot, which remains one of the most dangerous groups in Southeast Asia.

In their first known major clash, Abu Sayyaf gunmen battled rebels from the larger Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in fighting early last week, leaving at least 22 combatants dead in the mountainous jungles on Jolo Island. A Moro rebel was beheaded—the Abu Sayyaf’s signature act.

Bonded by blood ties and war, the two armed groups had coexisted for years on Jolo in a predominantly Muslim region, where abject poverty, guns and weak law enforcement have combined in an explosive mix to fuel their rebellions and pockets of lawlessness.

The trouble began after the MNLF rebels—seeking to regain their former dominance in the region—tried to arrange the release of several hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf, including Jordanian TV journalist Baker Atyani and two European tourists. When the Abu Sayyaf commanders refused to free the hostages, the MNLF launched an attack.

The MNLF rebels are now trying to rescue the captives and end the Abu Sayyaf’s reign, Moro commander Khabier Malik told The Associated Press.

“We breathe the same air, speak the same language and live and fight in the same jungle,” Malik said by telephone. “We’re a bigger force and we cannot allow this small group to reign with this brutality.”

For years, a shadowy alliance is believed to have existed between the groups. While the MNLF signed a limited peace deal with the government years ago, some Moro commanders are suspected of giving sanctuary to Abu Sayyaf men and carrying out kidnappings for ransom with them.

“Collusion between the Abu Sayyaf and MNLF members—many of whom are relatives—on Jolo is a major reason large swaths of the island have been essentially ungovernable for years,” said Bryony Lau of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank.

The government “should consider whether the recent clash has shifted relations between them in a way that could make it easier to isolate senior figures of the Abu Sayyaf,” Lau said.

But the rift offers no easy answers for the Philippines. Weaning the Moro rebels from hardened militants would mean a true government alliance with the rebels, some of whom are suspected of involvement in attacks on civilians and government forces.

Walking a tightrope amid the clashes, President Aquino said the Moro offensive was not sanctioned by his administration.

But government officials also are not trying to stop the fighting, presumably hoping each group weakens the other.

Police and soldiers have simply set up checkpoints to seal off the area around the fighting, trying to keep it from spilling into other rural areas.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said he would allow the MNLF attacks to continue, at least for now.

“They’re cleaning their ranks. These kidnappers are either their former members or one of their own,” Tan said.

The MNLF spearheaded an underground movement in the early 1970s for a separatist Islamic state in Mindanao. But it dropped its secessionist goal when it accepted limited autonomy for minority Muslims in the Roman Catholic-majority nation’s south, prompting key guerrillas to break away, including a Libyan-educated radical, Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani,  who established the Abu Sayyaf.

So long as Janjalani lived, the Abu Sayyaf dedicated itself to fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao. But after he was killed in a clash with government forces in December 1998, the Abu Sayyaf descended into terrorism and then resorted to banditry.

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  • Touch_Me_, Nuts!

    In this running conflict, Pnoy must realize that he cannot play politics to his advantage. Pnoy must be an instigator of good. Pnoy must be convinced that not all things done legal doesn’t always make it right. The issue of Muslim Mindanao is one of them. 

  • Ronald Tan

    Noynoy should support the MNLF too

  • WAJ

    Mr. President sir, all I can say is just be pro-active about this issue. Do not be mislead.

  • JasonBieber

    PNoy being wishy washy…tightrope…one foot in one foot out…non-committal…playing the field…hands on both sides…yeah seems like typical PNoy.

    President’s are supposed to make the hard choices and the difficult decisions and pick a stance and stand firm. However, PNoy doesn’t do that. The only thing he’s firm on is that he is against GMA and that’s about it.

  • TuwadNaDaan



  • a g

    I think the President just respects the decision of the Governor of Sulu. He was voted to take care of the people of the Province.

  • $20926843

    Perhaps the more appropriate description of this situation insofar as this inutile and autistic president is concerned is that he/she is dancing “TINIKLING” with the yellow ribbon like scarf in his/her neck ready for HANGING!

  • amelius23

    This is a welcome gesture for Nur Misuari and his MNLF forces to have rescued 3 foreign captives of Abu Sayyaf. We enjoin the same thing with MILF to try to neutralise other form of banditry in their area of responsibility. We anticipate to see the day that MNLF and MILF bury the hatchet of their long differences and work hand in hand with govt. to attain the long awaited peace in Mindanao where every Christian and Muslim brother has a stake to see a more lasting peace to abound in Mindanao not only at present but also for generation to come. The economic development and tourism industry in Mindanao is long overdue and let this new chapter of MNLF integration and concern for the actual situation in Mindanao will redound to be the beginning of a new light for Mindanao to at last experience the prosperity of a hollowed land which for generation was a hotbed of sectarian war and lawlessness perpetrated by those individuals who do not want peace in Mindanao for their own personal aggrandizement. Let the sincerity of the govt. explore the gripes and concern of the two major stakeholders which are the MNLF and MILF and with their sincere desire to end all hostilities and criminality in Mindanao, at last peace has reach the heartlands of our Muslim brothers.


    lumalabas pala na mas mahusay ang mga sundalo ng mga mnlf kesa sa sundalo natin. marami na ang napatay ng mnlf na abu sayyaf at na rescue na hostages samantalalang mga sundalong pilipino kuntodo suportado pa ng tangke, kanyon at eroplano hindi maubos ang abu sayyaf.

    • etomacq

      ipamamahagi ang mga bagong makinarya ng AFP sa MNLF at MILF.

      AFP taga tanim na lang, paggawa ng bahay, kalsada at tulay sa probinsya.

      • Bordado

        halata na may galit ka sa mga sundalo camoteq..masarap mag mahal ang mga sundalo lalo na kagaya sa misis! hak.hak.hak 

      • etomacq

        Sa Commander inChief ako galit dre hindi sa sundalo.. Mali ka ng pagkakaintindi.

        Great lover boy ito dre.. Habulin ng chicks. ako ang tipong wag mong gawin kumpare. 

        Siguro misis mo naagaw ng sundalo ano? ha ha.. 

    • botets

      Kaya naman pulbusin ng AFP yan kaso nga damay ang mga sibilyan, kaya nga guerilla warfare ang pinaka mahirap after a major warfare, ang US nga even with their superior arms sumuko sa Iraq tsaka Afghanistan. Kaya nga ang pinaka radical solution was ethnic cleansing since the time of the Crusade.

  • Fulpol

    Abu Sayyaf is a breakaway group of MNLF..

    MILF is a breakaway group of MNLF..

    so what is next?

    • nakatutok

      Umbra Kato and Kumander Bravo ( BIFF ) broke away from the MILF…

      • etomacq

        and another break away group will come soon from BIFF… then another break away group form BIFF’s break away group.. so on and so fort.

    • reader2323

      Abu Sayaf is not a breakaway group they are the FUNDRAISING group of MNLF and MILF if you look back the history of this group from the time of our former president from tobacco, drunker and gambler, most greedy woman up to present gay president, this group are within the jurisdiction of the claimed territory of the these MNLF and MILF when the authorities coordinate their law enforcement operation with them they will ambushed the gov. operatives look what happened to our fallen soldiers in Basilan and Jolo.


      • 18C0501

        thats right!!!

  • Gerry Mendez

    government announces to the whole world that it can not enforce laws in muslim areas and seeks another armed group to do its job.  The problem is after this armed group does the government’s work, how will the government disarm them.  In the meantime, christians caught carrying even a boy scout knife are arrested.

  • jun

    matagal na sana nilang (MNLF) ginawa yan, sila rin kasi ang lumikha sa Abu-sado, buti nga sa kanilang magpatayan na lang ng maubos na mga terorista sa bansa, mga bwisit sa buhay ang mga tadong to.

  • droccu

    Isn’t this just a quarrel on the division of spoils (ransom money) between two allies (MNLF and Abu)?

    • reader2323

      right pera ang pinag-aawayan nila hindi ang dahilan ay nilinis nila ang kanilang hanay kampo ng Abusayaf, MILF at MNLF iisa o magkatabi lng yan

  • regd

    It’s an ON and OFF relationship with these rascals. It’s OFF when PNoy sits and whoever is at the helm after him, it’s back ON.

  • etomacq

    Hindi makanti ng AFP ang ASG sa teritoryo ng MNLF..

    Hindi rin makanti ng AFP ang BIFF sa teritoryo ng MILF..

    inutil na AFP?????

    • reader2323

      ang kitid naman ng utak nitong si etomacq. 
      erap time nag declare ng all out war maraming nag puna sana ang binili ng bala ginastos na lang sa mga social services.
      gma time pinatuloy sandali ang all out war pag katapos namigay ng bigas at nkipag peace talk
      pinoy time nakipag peace talk ang gobyerno.

      ang AFP DI PWEDENG MAG CONDUCT NG OPERASYONG KUNG WALANG PAHINTULOT GALING SA COMANDER IN CHIEF kung gustuhin ng nanungkulan na pasukin ang kampo ng MILF, MNLF, ABUSAYAF 2-3 months tapos na ang major operation succeeding months clearing operation na lang.

      kaya pwedeng mamili sila WAR OR PEACE?

      Peace ang mas maigi dahil mas kawawa ang sibilyan kung may giyera!

      • etomacq

        Pero bakit sa MILF lang nakipag peacetalk ang gobyerno ni Noy?????

        Mas makitid ata utak mo… Hindi lang MILF ang rebeldeng Muslim.

        Kung puro peace na pala e di i-abolish na AFP.. ano pa magiging katungkulan nila?

        Taga tanim at pag gawa ng bahay, kalsada at tulay na lang?

        Kaw na mismo nagsabi, kawawa ang sibilyan kung may gyera.. so buwagin na ang AFP para wala ng gyera..

        Kung gusto talaga ng peace ng Commander in Chief..

        Kahit sa China maki pag peace na lang tayo kahit sakupin nila ang west Philippines para walang ng gyera?. Dahil Pilipinong sibilyan ang kawawa pag nakipag gyera tayo sa China. 

      • Yusuke Zenkibuta

        Kitid ng utak mo. So ibig sabihin ndi natin kelan ang ng afp kung walang giyera.? Ndi lng para sa war ang mandate ng afp. Lahat ng bansa kelan ang ng sariling Armed Forces ndi para sa main reason ng war kundi para preservation ng peace

      • etomacq

        Ginagawang taga tanim na lang ng Commander in Chief mo ang mga sundalo. Tindi ng mga training nila tapos pagtatanimin lang pala ng puno at halaman.

        Paano nga mapre-preserve ang peace kung ang mga sundalo nga natin hindi makanti ang ASG, MNLF at MILF??? 
        Explain mo rin maigi Mr. Kitid Utak kung peace ba ang labanan ng MNLF at ASG?????????????

        Ang engot mo talaga. paano ba napreserve ng AFP ang peace sa bakbakan ng MNLF at ASG??????.. Sagutin mo yan kung talagang genius ka sa pag kakaalam mo.

  • Pitbulldog

    The pomp and celebrations remind me of the festivites maraming publicity runs para sa peace pact between GRP and MNLF before.  May pamartsa-martsa pa ang ang MNLF papuntang Davao, he he, di nga lang maka-porma kay Duterte na pumasok sa Davao na may baril.  Ano nangyari after that?  Pumasok ang MILF at Abu Sayyaf.  So what?  Maghunos-dilis ka P-noy….

  • eltee mulawin


  • doublecross

    thank’s GOD, he’s safe…..

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