MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay was not authorized by President Aquino to negotiate a truce with Nur Misuari, and there were “no instructions” from the President that Binay travel to Zamboanga City, a member of the Cabinet said Saturday.
The official, who asked not to be identified by name for lacking authority to talk about Binay’s actions, said Binay was negotiating with Misuari or his loyal followers in the Moro National Liberation Front on his own.
“He (Binay) is trying to insert himself. He’s jeopardizing the safety of the troops because of politicking,” said the official. “Per Volt (Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin), there’s no ceasefire.”
Before midnight Friday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer immediately contacted several Palace officials after learning that Binay announced he had negotiated a truce with Misuari that was supposedly taking effect shortly.
But two Palace officials, who were privy to the situation on the ground, expressed surprise.
“I’m sorry, I am not aware of that,” said National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia in a text message.
Peace Process Adviser Teresita Deles said as much.
“I checked with (Social Welfare) Secretary Dinky Soliman, who’s in Zamboanga. She said Gazmin is already sleeping,” said Deles.
A Cabinet member who also could not be quoted on record also denied that the government had agreed to a truce.
“Till this minute, no mention of such initiative in Zambo headquarters, but only Secretary Volts can say for sure,” said the Cabinet member, adding: “Sorry, I couldn’t give you good news. Ask (Gazmin). He’s the competent person who can say what happened.”
The official added: “The fighting continues and no change in orders to police and AFP.”
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas did not comment on the reported truce when contacted by phone late Saturday afternoon.
He did confirm that three members of the Philippine National Police were killed in the fighting: Inspector Jay Oyoyan, PNP Academy Class 2012, Police Officer 3 Murphy Abbilani and PO2 Christian Hernaez, a member of the PNP Special Action Force.
The three were killed during a clearing operation at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Roxas said.