‘MNLF ready, just in case’

MANILA — Members of the Moro National Liberation Front on Sunday began oiling their high-powered firearms “in case the need to use them arises”, a spokesman said two days after the signing of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said that   they did not expect any untoward incidents to erupt in Mindanao following the CAB signing, but they opted to “wait and see.”

Cerveza said the MNLF fighters “don’t want to be caught flat-footed.”

He said the peace deal could face rough sailing ahead before the formulation of the basic law creating the Bangsamoro entity, the law that would substitute the  1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF.

The government is confident of  attaining genuine peace in Mindanao as a result of the new peace accord with the MILF after decades-long conflict that left tens of thousands of Moros and government soldiers killed.

But Cerveza expressed pessimism on CAB, saying that the  “finish line is still far ahead,” referring to the complex problems the government and the MILF would be facing in the aftermath of the deal signing.

“The framework does not provide a package of peace but would only address the MILF and not the people of Mindanao,” Cerveza said.

“They have plans, but at the end it not complements the desire for peace because they are creating more confusion, complex problems than solution,” he stressed.

He said genuine peace could have been attained in Mindanao during the GRP-MNLF peace accord, but the government left it hanging.

Cerveza said the MNLF is not the only problem the government has to contend with, but it also has to reckon with the other rebel factions which could unite and forge a bigger alliance than the MILF.

Meanwhile, Cerveza noticed the sudden changing of military guards in Jolo, Sulu, the bailiwick of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, presently in hiding after the September Zamboanga City siege.

He said that the military could be up to something. “If their intention is to create war, war is an expensive exercise, but then we have no other options but to pay the price.”