MNLF-Sema faction says allegiance with ISIS unlikely, assures protection to Mindanao Christians, Lumads

Aug. 29, 2014

TAGUM CITY—A Moro National Liberation Front faction said it is unlikely to follow the ways of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because of the latter’s “radical” view of Islam.

“Their [ISIS] methods are opposite to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. It is the obligation of a Muslim to establish an Islamic government but not through violence because Allah do not allow Muslims to be oppressors,” Romeo Sema, executive director of the MNLF General Council of 15, told DavaoToday in a phone interview.

Sema said that MNLF forces do not share “the radical view with that of jihadist group ISIS”, saying “we are for peace and I am saying this categorically that we don’t have allegiance with ISIS.”

Sought to comment on reports that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf rebels have pledged allegiance to ISIS, Sema said: “we don’t have any comment because we have not yet validated the information.”

Sema denied reports that some MNLF rebels have been sent abroad to undergo training with the ISIS. “No, it is not true. We don’t have MNLF forces that were sent to train with ISIS. We don’t need that because we have our own training academy to train MNLF forces.”

“Our own MNLF forces have been trained by cadres who were trained also from abroad. Again, for the record: we had not sent any of our forces from Mindanao to train with ISIS,” he added.

Sema also allayed fears of Christians and indigenous peoples in Mindanao that there would be mass executions for those who would not support the MNLF, a method used as  punishment by ISIS to non-Muslims reportedly in Iraq and Syria.

“We [MNLF] are principled fighters as we are fighting for the rights of the oppressed specifically the people of Bangsamoro and this includes our Christian brothers and indigenous peoples in Mindanao. The 1996 Final Peace Agreement is the manifestation of our tolerance and goodwill to the people of Mindanao,” Sema said. (

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