DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 May) – Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that fought the Marcos dictatorship, has declared support for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., this time, for President. In 2016, Misuari endorsed the son and namesake of his “number one enemy,” for Vice President.
The 83-year old Misuari declared support for Marcos-Duterte (Sara), a declaration made in Saudi Arabia on May 1, according to the Facebook page of the “MNLF Moro National Liberation Front – Members of OIC, PUIC.”
The video, posted at 2:23 p.m. on May 3, came with a caption that said Misuari on May 1 “held a gathering to meet with MNLF members and guests in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia” where he “officially endorsed” Marcos-Duterte and senatorial bet Robin Padilla, a movie actor who became a Muslim while in jail.
In 2016, when Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan asked Misuari who his candidates were for President and Vice President, Misuari replied he was going for Duterte-Marcos, referring to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“The father (Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.) was my number one enemy. But I am a Muslim. The fault of the father cannot be inherited by the son. Neither the father can be accused of the wrongdoings of the son,” he said.
In 2022, Misuari in the video where he announced support for Marcos-Duterte, acknowledged his “very sad memory about the governance” of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. but quicky added, “not necessarily against the son.”
“As I said time and again, the fault of the father cannot be inherited unnecessarily by the children or by the sons and daughters so don’t blame, don’t impute any blame on the son at this point in time. Forget about the past but look at who Bongbong Marcos is,” he added.
He said he would “always demand” of the candidate, “to tell us, in black and white, what you intend to do once you come to power.”
“We have to know that, and we will take them to account, take them into account once they come into power,” said Misuari, who served as governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from 1996 to 2001.
But Misuari, presently the Philippines’ Special Economic Envoy on Islamic Affairs to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, did not say if he had met or conversed with Marcos Jr. recently and if they had, did not share with the public what Marcos Jr. told him “in black and white” what he intends to do if elected President.
“A very grateful man”
The 90-day campaign that is almost over but Marcos Jr. has yet to present his Bangsamoro agenda.
In Buluan, Maguindanao on March 28, his first sortie in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) since the campaign period began on February 8, he merely talked of the need for unity in the country. In a jampacked rally in Marawi City on March 31, Marcos in his 20-minute speech, repeated his previous speeches on unity but like in Buluan, did not say how he intends to achieve that unity. Like in Buluan, he said nothing about his Bangsamoro agenda or the Bangsamoro peace processes and those who waited for him to say something about Marawi rehabilitation and compensation were disappointed. They were not mentioned at all.
Marcos had no sortie in the three island provinces of the BARMM but Governor Sakur Tan of Sulu and Governor Yshmael Sali of Tawi-tawi declared their support for him.
In the 2016 vice presidential race, Marcos won in Sulu while Leni Robredo won in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-tawi.
On April 22, three of the five Governors of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) – Sulu’s Sakur Tan, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and the rival candidates of the incumbent Governors of Basilan and Tawi-tawi, along with non-BARMM Governor Suharto Mangudadatu, husband of the reelectionist Maguindanao Governor, signed a pledge of commitment to Marcos-Duterte at the Manila Hotel evening of April 22, in the presence of Marcos Jr.
Sali was not around but the 81-year old Tawi-tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali, Sali’s rival and like Tan, a self-confessed “Marcos loyalist” during the reign of Marcos Sr., was present.
Basilan Governor Jim Hataman was not present. He would declare his support for Marcos’ rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, through a message read for him in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Darapanan where the MILF’s political party, United Bangsamoro Justice Party, declared support for Robredo.
Robredo declared continued support for the Bangsamoro peace process and gave a five-point commitment, based on her earlier consultations, on the urgent Bangsamoro issues that have to be attended to, if she were elected President.
At the Manila Hotel, Marcos was profuse in his gratitude to the BARMM leaders. He described their support as a “napakalaking bagay” (huge undertaking), that it is “an act of unification if only on the political sphere.”
But Marcos did not say in his speech what he commits to do for the Bangsamoro if elected President.
He ended his speech by saying: “But please always remember, I am a very grateful man.”
In Davao City, where Misuari has been based for several years now, Rolando Olamit, head of the MNLF in the city and the front’s secretary-general for political mobilization, is busy campaigning for Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.
MindaNews asked him if there was an MNLF meeting on endorsing Marcos Jr. or if Marcos Jr. was Misuari’s personal choice. He has not replied.
But Olamit wrote “best tandem for me” as his caption for a socmed card with the photos of Pacquiao and Sara Duterte which he posted on his social media account, set for a public audience, shortly before 5 p.m. on May 5.
Also on May 5, Muslimin Sema, chair of an MNLF faction with a huge following, said of Misuari: “his memory and principles had been damaged by ambitions.”
Sema heads an MNLF faction that has been pushing for the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement while also supporting the government’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MNLF faction has representatives in the BARMM Government.
Sema was recently appointed as Labor Minister of the BARMM while the son of the late MNLF chair Yusoph Jikiri, Albakil “Thong” Jikiri, the MNLF faction’s Vice Chair for Military Affairs, is now a Member of Parliament in the BARMM.
On April 27, Jikiri, in a statement declared that after “careful assessment,” they have “unanimously agreed that our undivided and total support will be given to the candidacies of Marcos and Duterte as president and vice president, respectively.”
He also urged all MNLF members is Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) as well as Zamboanga Peninsula to support Marcos, Duterte and the senatorial candidates of the UniTeam.
Sema told MindaNews on May 2 that the MNLF had “not decided who to support openly in the presidential election but had previously decided to support Sara Duterte as Vice President.”
“MNLF has set, however, the condition to support a presidential candidate — he or she must declare a clear platform and policy to protect and uphold the gains of the peace process that brought to form the Bangsamoro parliamentary government and implement all signed agreements as embodied in the tripartite agreement between the GPH and MILF with the participation of the OIC in Jeddah,” Sema said on May 2.
“No to Marcos remnants”
On May 5, Sema told MindaNews: “Even if I stand alone, I can never put legitimacy to the Brain, Executioner of disenfranchisement of the Moro in their communities,” referring to Marcos Sr. “His armed machinery mentally tortured me for six months in prison and drove my families and people from their ancestral communities. I say no to the Marcos remnants. I oppose any MNLF element’s position to recognize or legitimize any Marcos to lead my people.”
Guiamel Alim, a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, told MindaNews: “Misuari does knows like the MILF. The MILF is supporting Leni. Misuari knows what Marcos has done to the Bangsamoro. But he would rather show support to the enemy of the Bangsamoro than to support his rival. A desperate move.”
A lawyer for the MNLF in Maguindanao said it is true that the son does should not bear the faults of his father but “Misuari should balance his statement with the blood and tears of the Bangsamoro martyrs and the people who suffered under the Marcos dictatorship. On the other hand, Marcos Jr. has the responsibility to correct the past by apologizing for the crimes of his father.”
The lawyer noted Marcos Jr.’s “lack of commitment” to the Bangsamoro peace process.
For Vice President, Misuari endorsed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, saying “she is closest to us” and he can trust her “to attend to our humble demands from the south.”
“I don’t like to actually influence your thinking or your choice. Exercise your freedom of choice. But I am only telling you that to the best of my knowledge, because of her connection to the President being his daughter, I think she is beneficial to all of us,” Misuari said of Mayor Duterte.
Misuari said the mayor and his wife are very close. “She is like a sister to my wife. They are very, very close to each other, like sisters so this connection would ensure quick deliverance of reply on the part of the Office of the President.”
“If Sara Duterte is aspiring for Vice President as they are saying, I think she will be among the best candidates who can, you know, attend to our humble demands from the south,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)