Unholy alliance of ‘freedom fighters’
IN HIS Eid’l Fitre message marking the end of the month of Ramadan, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari has referred to the members of his former Muslim rebel group as “freedom fighters.”
The phrase “freedom fighters” seems to have gained some notoriety lately after former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Commander Umbra Kato has founded the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) when he was driven away from the MILF.
Is this just a mere coincidence or should we be reading between the lines here?
But it seems it is more than a coincidence if one will take into consideration the accusation made by the MILF that some prominent members of the MNLF have allegedly entered an unholy alliance with the BIFF in launching a series of violent attacks in Maguindanao.
According to MILF, there are prominent personalities in the MNLF ranks who have joined the BIFF in carrying out violent attacks in some parts of Maguindanao, a known stronghold of the BIFF founded by cashiered Commander Umbra Ameril Kato.
The MILF, however, did not name who are these MNLF members “out of respect.” But it does not have any second thoughts to claim that the goal of the unholy alliance between the MNLF and BIFF is to derail the ongoing peace talks between the MILF and the government.
Kato’s group has continued its violent attacks in Maguindanao province, resulting in the death of 8 persons and injuries to others from the government and Muslim rebel groups and displacing thousands of local residents in the area.
If I remember it right, Kato carries a P10-million bounty reward on his head and has been rumored to have died of stroke. Recently, there was said to be hospitalized in Cebu, and is now recuperating.
And if media reports are true, the hospital bill was said to have been paid by a known politician. The government should verify such report and should file appropriate criminal charges against this still-unidentified local politician.
Alright, Kato may have been slowed down by his illness. He could not be possibly leading these violent attacks. But his lieutenants, Mohammad Ali Tambako and Hadji Kadialen, are said to be running their group now and planned out the continued attacks in Maguindanao.
Tambako, according to the intelligence community, is said to be more radical than Kato purportedly due to his close contact with militant personalities while taking his Islamic studies in Khartoum, Sudan.
The government, last time I check, is still honoring its 1996 peace pact with the MNLF. If such unholy alliance does exist between the MNLF and BIFF, the government should put to task Misuari and his men for conniving with Kato’s lieutenants in carrying out attacks in Mindanao.