We are neither returnees nor surrenderees — MNLF

Hadjirul said returnees or surrenderees are those who return to the fold of law, noting that this is the same tag reporters sometimes used in referring to their fighters.

It would be more appropriate that our forces be called ‘ex-combatants’ referring to those who are inactive and did not surrender,” Hadjirul explained.

Absalom Cervesa, MNLF spokesperson, said however that neither surrenderees nor ex-combatants is a correct label. He said the term ‘MNLF forces’ will do.

Commander Danny Jalil, state chairman of Sarangani Revolutionary Committee, said it is more appropriate to call them “demobilized MNLF combatants.”

MNLFs who are integrated to the AFP and PNP are called ‘MNLF integrees’ while those who stay in the camps are called ‘demobilized MNLF combatants’,” Jalil explained.

The MNLF signed a peace pact with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on September 2, 1996 after the tedious GRP-MNLF Peace Talk, but that does not mean the MNLF has surrendered to the government” Hadjirul explained, “.”

He said that members have not laid down their arms and that this was not among the provisions of the peace pact.

Among the provisions of the agreement is that elements of the MNLF-Bangsamoro Armed Forces would be integrated into the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.

There are still thousands of our active forces left not integrated into the AFP or PNP,” Hadjirul claimed.

A tripartite meeting between the MNLF, the GRP and the Organization of Islamic Conference will be held in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on July 10 to 15.

The meeting was called for by the OIC after it visited the country in May 2006, months before the 10th anniversary of the signing of peace pact. The government, however, has repeatedly postponed the tripartite meeting initially scheduled in July last year.

The OIC brokered the GRP-MNLF peace talks during the Ramos administration.

The stalled meeting aims to review the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement, determine deterrents to its implementation, and find solutions to such obstacles.

Hadjirul claimed there was a strong commitment from the government to allow MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari to attend the tripartite meeting.

Misuari has been detained since January 2002 on rebellion charges after his men staged an uprising in Sulu in December 2001.