MNLF ready to fight Daesh in Marawi, says Nur Misuari in conversation with Arab News

Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari. (AN photo)
Updated 22 September 2017
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MNLF ready to fight Daesh in Marawi, says Nur Misuari in conversation with Arab News

DAVAO CITY: Nur Misuari, the founder and leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has broken his silence in an exclusive conversation with Arab News, in which he rejected the charges filed against him in a Philippines anti-graft court.
In his first interaction with media since the charges were filed against him, Misuari talked exclusively to Arab News in Davao City. He claimed the case was brought against him by people out to sabotage his participation in the Mindanao peace process.
Arrest warrants were issued by the Sandiganbayan (special appellate court) on Aug. 31 for Misuari and four others in two counts of graft and two counts of malversation for the allegedly anomalous purchase of educational materials when he was the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Misuari acquired bail on Tuesday for what he termed as “trumped-up cases aimed to discredit” him, stressing he was not involved in the alleged multimillion-peso fake education projects. He said the alleged purchase took place after he was forced to end his term in office — which ran from 1996 to 2001 — and escape to Sabah, the East Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Misuari left the Philippines when he was accused of staging a rebellion against the government, and he claims there was an attempt to assassinate him at that time.
Misuari said that one of the providers of the purchased materials, to whom he referred as “Lolit,” told his lawyer, Bong Percasio, that the payment for the project was made when Farouk Hussein sat at the helm of the ARMM after Misuari left.
He stressed the need for further investigation into the case.
“The problem here is that some people play dirty. They know that it’s just a matter of time and we can probably conclude our talks with the government,” said Misuari, who was engaged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to participate in the ongoing peace process between the government and Muslim separatists.
Misuari said he was told “these wayward elements in our society, who are serving as puppets of the former Philippine colonial government (referring to the previous administration) and who also have links with Malaysia, spoke to some people in the Office of the President.”
He quoted these elements as saying: “Misuari has to be put in a legal quagmire so he cannot assume authority here,” and added, “Some of these people are still serving as tentacles of the former government of the Philippines.”
Amid these alleged attempts to remove him from the picture, Misuari still expressed an optimistic view of the peace process under the Duterte administration.
“With this president, probably, it is a different thing,” he said. “The president, being from Mindanao, I think he understands us much better than the previous ones. The other (administrations), they were just pulling our legs, conspiring with Malaysia.”
According to Misuari, he will complete half a century as a revolutionary on March 18 next year.
“I told the president that I do hope before the end of this half-century, we can consolidate the (peace) agreement. Otherwise we just have to continue. We cannot stop halfway through,” he stated.
At the outbreak of the Marawi siege, Misuari expressed the MNLF’s readiness to deal with the Daesh-backed Maute Group. Misuari offered to deploy MNLF fighters to help defeat the terrorist group, saying they saw the Marawi crisis as an opportunity for them to show their mettle in helping the government restore peace in Mindanao.
“I told the president... there’s no need to employ tanks, bombers, cannons, mortars. We will deal with it hand-to-hand...” Misuari said, adding that he wanted to prevent the destruction of Marawi’s infrastructure.
Asked what could happen in the event that the talks fall through, he replied: “Well, the logic of failure is war.”


Quake swarm jolts Indonesian islands, killing at least 13

Updated 46 min 11 sec ago
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Quake swarm jolts Indonesian islands, killing at least 13

  • At least a dozen people are killed in multiple strong earthquakes on the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa
  • More than 1,800 houses were damaged, at least half of them severely

SEMBALUN, Indonesia: Multiple strong earthquakes killed at least a dozen people on the Indonesian islands of Lombok and Sumbawa as the region was trying to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed hundreds of people.
A shallow magnitude 6.9 quake that hit about 10 p.m. was one of several powerful earthquakes Sunday in the northeast of Lombok that also caused landslides. The nighttime quake was followed by strong aftershocks.
At last 11 people on Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa island were killed by collapsing buildings or heart attacks, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Monday. Two people died earlier Sunday on Lombok during a magnitude 6.3 quake.
More than 1,800 houses were damaged, at least half of them severely, he said.
The swarm of quakes caused panic in Sembalun subdistrict on Lombok in the shadow of Mount Rinjani, but many people were already staying in tents following the deadly jolt in early August and its hundreds of aftershocks. On Sumbawa, a neighborhood was engulfed by a fire that started in a collapsed house.
“People panicked and scattered,” Nugroho said. “Some people are hysterical because they feel earthquake aftershocks that are harder than before. They heard a roar that probably came from landslides in the hills and Mount Rinjani.”
Dwikorita Karnawatim, who heads Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said buildings that haven’t collapsed so far have suffered repeated stress, and authorities have urged people to avoid both the mountain’s slopes and weakened buildings.
Sunday night’s tremor occurred on a different fault and was not an aftershock of the magnitude 7.0 quake on Aug. 5 that killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.
The quake lasting five to 10 seconds also was felt in the neighboring island of Bali and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi.
Quakes earlier Sunday caused landslides on Rinjani, an active volcano. Video shot by the Indonesian Red Cross showed huge clouds of dust billowing from the mountain’s slopes.
Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a July earthquake that killed 16 people, triggered landslides and stranded hundreds of tourists on the mountain.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that straddles the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.