Ex-rebel leader turned peace advocate disappears off Zambo City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 August) –  Authorities have launched a search to for a former rebel leader turned peace advocate and aquaculture farmer who disappeared at sea Wednesday.

Reported missing was Akbari Samson, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and now peace advocate and president of the Eleven Islands Neighborhood Association (EINA).

EINA is an aquaculture cooperative whose members are former MNLF combatants under the then commander Samson.

Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, Zamboanga City police chief, said the Police Station 11 headed by Senior Insp. Nonito Asdai is conducting a thorough investigation.

Initial investigation showed that Samson left Siromon Island aboard his motorized banca marked “Lancer” at around 5 p.m. Wednesday on his way home to Barangay Taluksangay, 19 kilometers east of this city.

Siromon is part of the 11 group of islands where EINA, which is into crab and lobster fattening, holds office.

The Police Station 11 is based on Sacol Island, 54 kilometers of this city, and has jurisdiction over the 11 group of islands.

De Ocampo said Samson failed to arrive at his destination, prompting his family to report to the police about his disappearance.

De Ocampo said Tigtabon Island barangay chair Attang Mohammad Nur, accompanied by policemen from Police Station 11, found Samson’s 16-horse-powered motorized banca near Layag-Layag Island, Barangay Talon-Talon, five kilometers east of this city.

He said they also recovered the five kilos of fresh fish and seashells Samson brought when he left Siromon Island.

He said the search continues aimed to locate Samson who remains missing since he was last seen last Wednesday.

Samson, who is the commander of the MNLF forces based in 11 Islands, this city, returned to the folds of the law when the MNLF forged a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

After he surrendered, Samson became an active peace advocate and organized EINA which ventured into aquaculture farming.

He also served as kagawad of Barangay Dita, a coastal village located 41 kilometers east of this city from 2007 to 2010.

Earlier this month, Samson, representing EINA and  William Lim, president of the  Zamboanga City-based Mega Fishing Corporation signed an agreement on growing grouper and abalone.

The signing was witnessed by Andrew Plitt, the Bureau Chief for Strategic Planning and Operations of the United States Agency for International Development-Washington D.C.

Plitt stood as one of the witnesses since EINA is being supported by USAID-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao Program’s on Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries Effort Project. (MindaNews)