Indonesia keeps distance from MNLF siege
MANILA, Philippines – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction led by MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari has not formally asked Indonesia to intervene in the ongoing Zamboanga siege.
This is despite the repeated pronouncements of Misuari's spokesperson Emmanuel Fontanilla that Indonesia, which brokered the peace deal between the Ramos government and the MNLF, should serve as a third party-mediator to resolve the Zamboanga conflict.
In a statement, Presidential Adviser for Peace Teresita Deles said Indonesia, which is also the third party for the tripartite review of the 1996 peace pact, told the government that the Misuari group only inquired about travel arrangements to attend the meeting in Yogyakarta, until it requested for its postponement on Thursday, September 12, the 4th day of the Zambo siege.
But the Misuari-led MNLF faction "never asked or offered to talk about resolving the incident in Zamboanga." It was the government that reached out to Indonesia, Deles said.
But Indonesia, as the head of the peace committee of the Organization on Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an influential group of Muslim countries, is not keen on taking a proactive approach — beyond a statement calling for a peaceful end to the siege.
"Embassy officials explained to us that this meant that their lines would be open to receive and transmit messages from one side to the other that they did not see it to be within their role to proactively make a call to either side," Deles said.
"We relayed to Indonesia last Tuesday and to the entire OIC Peace Committee last Thursday our request if they could help in any way in resolving the incident. None of the eight countries present offered a proposal," Deles said.
Indonesia earlier pushed for the peaceful resolution of the Zamboanga standoff. The OIC has also condemned the violence and called for the resumption of the tripartite review process.
On September 9, MNLF members loyal to founder Nur Misuari seized 4 coastal villages of Zamboanga City, demanding that the Aquino government heed their plea for a review of the agreement. The attack came on the day the Aquino government was scheduled to resume its talks with the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front. - Rappler.com