Maguindanao MNLF opposes Zambo siege

Cotabato City - Maguindanao-based civilian and military officials on assured that local members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) continue to recognize the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and Major General Romeo Gapuz, head of the Army's 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said that mayors and other local officials identified with the MNLF are closely coordinating with each other to prevent any spillover of the hostilities in Zamboanga City to the province.

Gapuz, Mangudadatu, and the municipal mayors from Maguindanao held a two-hour dialogue at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Dinsuat town, where they discussed security concerns spawned by the siege of Zamboanga City by followers of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari.

They lauded former Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairperson of the MNLF faction in mainland Mindanao, for leading efforts to pacify his forces that are scattered in Maguindanao.

''We have the assurance of MNLF leaders in our province that they will not join their comrades fighting government forces in Zamboanga City,'' Mangudadatu said.

According to Gapuz, there is one group of MNLF members in a secluded barangay (village) in Ampatuan town, which local officials are still trying to contact for a backdoor dialogue.

''All of our efforts to prevent any spillover of the hostilities in Zamboanga City to Maguindanao are being done according to Moro tradition of peace-building, which is actually done through dialogues and consensus-building,'' Gapuz said.

Sema, whose group has 20 ''revolutionary states'' scattered in mainland Mindanao and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), earlier said they were opposed to the Zamboanga City siege.

''There is no cause for alarm. We are enjoying tranquility in Maguindanao due to the cooperation of our MNLF groups and their leaders,'' Mangudadatu said.

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