ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/28 December) – Two hundred sixty-six members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who were either captured or who surrendered during the standoff with government forces in September were transferred Friday to a detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
Col. Andrelino Colina, commander of the military’s Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ), said the detainees were transported aboard a Navy Landing Ship Transport (LST) from the San Ramon Prisons and Penal Colony here.
The transfer of the detainees is in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) resolution transferring the detention and hearing of cases filed against those charged with rebellion and violation of the international humanitarian law in connection with the 20-day standoff last September.
MNLF followers of founding chair Nur Misuari under the command of Ustadz Habier Malik, laid siege initially on four barangays in the city on September 9, eventually leading to a standoff between MNLF and government forces.
The MNLF had signed an agreement with the Philippine government on December 23, 1976 and 20 years later signed the Final Peace Agreement to implement the 1976 agreement. In 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the FPA, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (then Conference) which brokered the peace process, set up the Tripartite Review with the two parties to review the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement.
The Tripartite Review was supposed to have met in mid-September but the meeting didn’t push through because of what happened in Zamboanga City. Malik and the spokespersons of Misuari claimed the MNLF troops were in the city for a peace rally and to raise the MNLF flag there.
Defense Secretary Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas declared the standoff over on September 28.
According to the last update of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council report on October 2, the 20-day standoff resulted to the death of 137 persons (5 police personnel, 18 military, nine civilians and 105 MNLF) and caused injuries to 251 as of 29 September.
The same report said that as of 11 p.m. of October 1, a total of 23,794 families or 118,889 persons) were affected and that out of this number, 20,810 families or 105,705 persons were served inside and outside evacuation centers.
Colina said the Navy ship departed this city around 8 a.m. Friday under heavy guard.
A police official privy to the transfer of the detainees said the LST was escorted by three Navy gunboats.
Colina said the transfer of the detainees was made in coordination with the Bureau of Jail Management and penology (BJMP) and law enforcement agencies, the police and the military.
He said the transfer was not made public due to security consideration.
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the transfer of the rebel-detainees to Bicutan, Taguig was necessary due to security risks.
Salazar earlier requested President Benigno Simeon Aquino, III and other concerned agencies to transfer the detainees as soon as possible.
Misuari, who is facing charges for allegedly leading the rebellion and violation of the international humanitarian law, has yet to be arrested.
Reports said Malik, who was also charged with the same crimes, is dead, but there is no official confirmation if, indeed, he is dead. (MindaNews)