Misuari promised fighters P10,000 and a firearm each — ARMM governor

...MNLF founder believed to be still in Sulu

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Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Nur Misuari, who promised P10,000 and a gun to each of the fighters that tried to declare independence in Zamboanga City, is believed to be in Sulu, according to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

“We have a report that he’s now in Sulu, not in the mainland, but in an island. He’s mobile,’’ Hataman told reporters after the Senate hearing on the ARMM billion budget on Monday. He declined to identify the island.

Hataman said surrendering fighters told authorities that Misuari cajoled them into sailing to the southern city, saying they would be rewarded money from the United Nations and a firearm if they succeeded in declaring independence.

“Misuari just told them to go there because they’re going to get paid by the United Nations. If they go to Zamboanga City and are able to raise the flag, and the UN will declare their independence, they’ll get paid P10,000 per participant through the ATM,’’ he said.

They were told that upon the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force, they would get their prize, plus a firearm, he added.

The UN has twice issued a statement denying it would send a peacekeeping force and recognize Bangsamoro independence declared by Misuari fighters, Hataman said.

President Aquino, who oversaw the military offensive to flush out the rebels for nine days before flying back to Manila Sunday night, said charges of rebellion would also be filed against Misuari for his key role in the attack.

The national police has filed rebellion and other criminal charges against 29 of his followers.

Hundreds of Moro rebels landed by boat in the city on Sept. 9, and threatened to march to the city hall and declare independence, but were repulsed by soldiers. They retreated to the seaside villages and seized 200 civilians, some of whom had escaped or been freed.

After days of fighting, government troops have boxed in the rebels, who were down to 30 to 40 and were holding at least 20 hostages, as of Monday.

Hataman said the group of Ustadz Habier Malik was confined to six buildings in Sta. Barbara and surrounded by security forces, as of Monday.

“The security forces are very cautious because of the hostages,’’ he said.

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