“We can still stop this war,” says Misuari on the Sabah standoff

Mar. 03, 2013

Nur Misuari, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said he is willing to go to Sabah and talk to the troops who launched a standoff, “in a brotherly way.”

By Cheryll D. Fiel
Davao Today

 Davao City, Philippines — Nur Misuari, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) says he is willing to mediate on the tension between Malaysia and the Sultanate of Sulu on the disputed island of Sabah, where violence erupted after a clash between the Sultanate’s police force and the Malaysian army.

He said he is willing to go to Sabah and talk to the troops who launched a standoff, “in a brotherly way.”

The MNLF leader said the governor of Tawi-Tawi Sadikul Sahali  and “somebody from the national government” has pleaded with him to join an entourage going to Kuala Lumpur and Sabah.   “They want me to contact these young people, tapos ngunit ngayon, aywan ko (but now, I don’t know),” he said.

Misuari said another way of solving the problem, is by making an appeal to his friend Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.   He claims the Prime Minister is a cousin of his grand nephew,  whose grandfathers are brothers. “So I intend to send him there, to talk to Najib and persuade him to desist from sending more forces [in Sabah].”

He said he will also talk to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, not to aggravate the situation.

“I can mediate with them, anyway, Sabah and Sarawak belong to me, and my clan. It doesn’t belong to the Sultanate, because this is the property of my great great grandfather Panglima Pahabasal Elija,” Misuari added.

Misuari flew in to Davao Saturday after attending a month-long meeting with the parliaments of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), conferred with Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Mandaya Hotel to talk on these options.

He clarified that the accusations of his involvement in the Sabah tension are “baseless and unfounded.”

Duterte, for his part, assured Misuari of support if anything happens. The Vice Mayor, without elaborating, offered help “in connecting and talking it out” with the national government.

Misuari said he talked to Sultan Kiram in a discreet meeting the night before he left for Davao.  He told the Sultan be careful because “(the government is) preparing to arrest you.”

“Sabi niya, mas gusto ko ma-arrest na ako para makapagpahinga na ako sa loob ng prison. (He said, he wanted to be arrested so he can relax in prison.)

Misuari thinks it is a big gamble on the Sultanate royal army to send their troops and mass up in Sabah. He is worried that violence might spread in Kunak, then to Kota Kinabalu in Sandakan and to other places.

Misuari said he does not want any trouble with Philippine government and Malaysia.  He thinks the problem is better left between the Bangsamoro people and the Malaysian people to resolve. “We should not allow other people to come in. It might only aggravate the situation,” he said.

Misuari lashed at President Benigno Aquino III for saying the Sultan’s claim and actions are “a hopeless cause”.   “He knows nothing about what he is talking about. He will become a laughing stock in the whole world with the way he presents himself before the eyes of the peoples of the world.”

Maintaining that he has no hand in the incident, Misuari said he is in the midst of preparing for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the MNLF this month in Jakarta.   Indonesia has offered to broker the resumption of the talks.

Misuari sounded firm that peace is at hand in Mindanao, “if not for the Sabah problem.”

Misuari said, he will leave the next day and meet with them [MNLF troops].  “Maybe the brother might want me to report to them about my travel abroad, and possibly will also include the whole Sabah,” he said.

Misuari is expected to attend the 6th Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Convention/2nd ATM General Assembly/1st Bangsamoro-Highlanders Mindanao Grand Summit this afternoon where he will be conferred as “adopted sons of Mindanao” with senatorial candidate Jack Enrile. (Cheryll D. Fiel, davaotoday.com)


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