Probe shows MNLF rebels started sneaking arms into Zamboanga in January
MANILA, Philippines—It took months for the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas to prepare and amass firearms and ammunitions for their September 9 attack on Zamboanga City, a Philippine National Police official said Tuesday.
Deputy General Felipe Rojas Jr., deputy chief for operations, said arrested MNLF rebels have revealed that they started sneaking firearms into the city as early as January.
“So hindi ito one time lang. Unti-unti nilang pinasok sa Zamboanga [City],” Rojas said when asked about the result of the investigation on how the rebels were able to bring loads of firearms and ammunition into the city without being intercepted by authorities.
Rojas also noted that Zamboanga has a long shoreline, making it difficult for authorities to detect people coming from Jolo and Basilan.
Meanwhile, Rojas said investigations were still ongoing as to where MNLF sourced its fund, considering the fact that launching such an attack would require a large amount of money.
The firearms used by the MNLF rebels were “old,” but were fully operational and maintained well, according to Rojas.
“We are still investigating kung may nag-finance dito,” Rojas said.
Rojas said there was no lapse in the intelligence gathering prior to the attack, pointing out that the first encounter with the rebels took place at the sea before some of the guerrillas slipped into Zamboanga City.
In that incident, Rojas said one frogman was killed and two others were wounded.
“Kaya it’s not true na hindi na-monitor ang pagdating nila. Na-monitor natin in fact, naka encounter natin sa dagat,” Rojas said.
If they were not stopped by authorities, the rebels, considering the number of firearms recovered from them, could have been able to carry out their plan – to hoist the MNLF flag at the Zamboanga city hall.
“But it did not happen,” Rojas said.
The stand-off started last September 9 after the MNLF rebels attempted to hoist their flag at the City Hall to declare their independence.
Some of the arrested rebels claimed that they were promised of P10,000 in exchange for their participation in the “peace rally.” Little did they know that they would be provided with firearms to government troops.
“They were duped by Misuari,” Rojas said, referring to MNLF founder Nur Misuari.
He said Misuari is reportedly moving from one place to another “because relatives of some of the killed MNLF [rebels] were angry at him.”
“So maraming kinakatakutan si Misuari ngayon . . . hindi lang government, pati mga relatives na kamag-anak ng mga namatay na MNLF na niloko niya,” Rojas said.
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