Statements of the MNLF Chairman:
Friends from the media you are welcomed. You may
ask any question you like. Well, I think you have
listened to my speech. I think we are now on the cross
road, and as I used to say, as leader of the MNLF and of
our people, I am not here to make any decision for them.
The Holy Qurían tells us ďIn the affairs of
the people they must be done through consultation among
them.Ē That is the fundamental principle of
our Islamic democracy. So we cannot impose our will on
the people. It is the people who are going to decide. So
therefore, I called upon this 5th Congress to
review our prevailing situation for them to draw up
certain guidelines for us to follow when we face our
responsibilities, in facing the OIC, in elevating our
case, if need be, to the United Nations or may be to the
international court of justice or whatever be the
collective desire of the people, we the leaders, have to
follow them. Thank you.
What was the Resolution of the 4th Congress
The Resolution of the 4th Congress was
drafted and submitted by the 7th commission
of the Congress, which was represented by the Bangsamoro
Youth. They asked the MNLF Chairman to convene the
Central Committee soon after the end of the Congress to
decide on their resolution demanding on the Central
Committee to return back to the path of
self-determination, decolonization and independence of
the Bangsamoro Republic as a separate and sovereign
independent state. So, towards the end of the plenary
session on the 30th of April this year
(2001), in my acceptance speech, I appealed to them to
suspend first that resolution since we have this
tripartite meeting provided for in the 9th
Summit Resolution in Qatar (held in November 2000) so
that we can hear from the OIC what exactly would be the
guidelines we can have from them. But since the
tripartite meeting was not held at all, so we went back
to the OIC and asked them for their opinion.
And there was this 28th ICFM. I
reported to them about this historic resolution of the
Bangsamoro youth and they told me to wait because they
will ask the Philippine government once and for all to
abide by their binding international commitment and
obligation. And therefore, there was the Bamako
Resolution appealing to the Philippine government not to
hold any unilateral and arbitrary referendum, let alone
the election in the ARMM until year 2003. But on both
instances, it now appears that the Philippine government
is in no mood to cooperate with the OIC, let alone with
that it was the Chairman of the MNLF who was responsible
for convincing the Congress to withhold that resolution,
now, I am asking them to pass their judgment on the fate
of that resolution.
they will approve then the Bangsamoro people will have
to go back to the path of independence. And therefore,
this will fit in to the desire of our brothers in the
MILF. So MNLF and MILF will now join hands to struggle,
if I have my way, to the peaceful and democratic way for
the independence of the Bangsamoro Republic which covers
the whole of Mindanao and the Islands of Palawan,
Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Camiguin and all other
historic parts of this great nation.
What would be the decision of the Congress or what would
be the option of the Bangsamoro people?
Well, I cannot preempt. I cannot anticipate because it
is not good. The moment I do that then I could be
charged of filibustering their sovereign authority to
decide over this matter. So, I would rather say, let us
wait until they come together this evening and they will
make their voice loud and clear.
What do you think their (Congress) responsibility?
Well, their responsibility is to decide for the destiny
of this land. I think you are listening to my speech. I
said it is now time to work to get back the destiny in
your hands because they have already abandoned the
bedrock of peace here through autonomy. There is no more
hope for autonomy for us because President Arroyo has
decided to listen to her advisers who donít like peace
here in Mindanao at all.
How far is your alliance with the MILF?
No, this is not a question of alliance. This is a
question of unity and solidarity.
What are the details?
Well, I donít know. The details will have to be worked
out first. They are going to have a series of meetings
between the two fraternal organizations and I think we
will know the outcome of that sooner or later. They
started few days ago and I think they will not stop
until they can evolve a very, very important decision on
What is the reaction of the government?
Philippine government? Well, I donít know. I am not
privy to the thinking of Malacanang because they are
prone to commit blunder, even to commit suicide. To me,
for them to abandon the peace agreement and to slap the
face of the OIC, is akin to committing some sort of
know the world economy is depressed. The Philippine
economy is in turmoil. The NDF (National Democratic
Front) is gaining strength everyday. The Abu Sayyaf is
still there holding out in the jungle. They had to call
on the American experts to help them. And now they are
taunting us. They want to create more problems for this.
na sila naawa sa Filipinos. Hindi na sila naawa sa mga
donít pity the Filipinos, they donít pity the
soldiers). They are isolated. Ask the soldiers in
Basilan. They will tell you that they are already bored
and tired doing this. They donít know what they are up
With this unity of the MNLF under your leadership and
the MILF, what is going to happen with the unity
agreement of the MILF and the MNLF Executive Council?
Well, I donít know exactly what will happen. But I
think anyone of you can make your own guess. Because the
moment we decide to fulfill the objective of the two
sides, I think that will overtake the (MILF-MNLF EC)
agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur. After, I have the
words of honor from brother Ustadz Salamat telling me
that that document signed in Kuala Lumpur was just to
please the Malaysian government. You see. He said. this
is empty and meaningless. It has no meaning at all.
What is the position of the OIC as of this moment?
They have not met yet. The ICFM meet once a year, and
after 3 years the Islamic Summit. So, we will have to
wait. But we have our representatives now talking to the
officials of the OIC in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), and I am
not very clear yet about the actions they are going to
take. But so far, the OIC has told me through our
emissary that this is not new. This divide and rule
tactic of the government, they said, is quite familiar
to them because they did this before in 1978.
Can this tripartite meeting be materialized?
They postponed it until the end of this year. But I donít
see any sign of the tripartite meeting now. I donít
What is going to be the decision of the leaders?
I donít know exactly what will be the decision of the
What if the Congress would decide that the MNLF will
fight against the government?
Well, we are obedient soldiers of the Congress
and of our people. We have no choice but to follow. But
if I have my way, I would like to solve the remaining
problems of Mindanao through peaceful and democratic
way. Whatever happens, I am a man of peace basically. I
want to continue to play the role as the defender,
protector, guardian and champion of peace. However, I am
not the only one who is going to make decision here. I
am only one among so many. So therefore, it is not
always the case that Misuariís wishes will be
What if the MILF will invite you to fight the
Well, it depends. If there is a mutual agreement, we
will never violate our agreement. We are afraid of the
wrath of the Almighty Allah. If our brothers in the MILF
say, Ďbrother Nur we have no choice, we have to go to
war.í If they can justify it, well, I am a man of
peace but there are times when I have no choice but also
to listen to my brothers. May be they are wiser than I
am. There are times when the peaceful means donít
count at all like in the case of the Philippines now. I
have signed three (3) peace agreements but they betrayed
me, they betrayed the people. It is only Nur Misuari who
is insisting in giving chance to peace.
no more. You ask brother Salamat Hashim. I think he is
fed up of all these (promises). Every time there is a
peace negotiation and he would allow them (military) in
good faith to enter their camps then they (military) spy
there only to attack them.
in Sulu, six times we allowed them to enter our camp in
Tiis. And later on, the 7th time around they
encircled our camp with their tanks and helicopter gun
ships and 600 or 700 of their forces. We have only about
40 people inside the camp, others were sleeping because
they did not expect that the military would attack them.
Several MNLF forces were martyred. You can exhume, in
one grave alone there were seven martyred there.
The Executive Council of 15 said you are no longer in
control over the MNLF.
Do you believe that? I have told them to get the best
outfit from the NICA and from their intelligence network
and go around (Mindanao). They can testify to the fact
that it is Misuari that holds the lever of power here in
Mindanao. I am not boasting. Believe me. You can ask
them (Executive Council of 15) if they can command the
Armed Forces of the MNLF. They have been repudiated by
the people. They have been condemned vigorously by the 4th
Congress upon the initiative of the youth. And they have
been expelled, all of them. We have good quality people
who replaced them. We have our new Vice Chairman who
replaced Hatimil Hassan. We have an Islamic scholar who
replaced Muslimin Sema (as MNLF secretary-general).
What is going to happen in the forthcoming ARMM
I donít know what is going to happen. Let them do it.
I only would like to echo the voice of the people here.
They donít want trouble, they donít want war. They
want to maintain friendship with the Philippine Armed
Forces here. And so therefore, other people should not
make any connivance or collusion to force the military
here into collision forces with us because they will not
profit at all. They will just waste the lives of the
soldiers here. We have already found formula to peace in
Mindanao. Why donít just respect that? The (peace
agreement) is an international agreement.
your Constitution. The Philippine Constitution accepts
or adopts international law as part of the law of the
land. The GRP-OIC-MNLF peace agreement is an
international law. They must respect the signature of
the OIC secretary-general and the Ministers representing
the Ministerial Committee of the Six. They must respect
that because this is a civilized world. But why the
Philippine government is violating all of these. What
gains they could achieve in creating another problem
Are they not satisfied? They have enough with all
these lawless elements. They have the Abu Sayyaf, they
have the NPA and they have off and on quarrels with our
brothers in the MILF. They are pushing us against the
wall and they are forcing us to unite with our brothers.
So you donít blame us for doing this because we are
only doing this in the exercise of our right to
Can we hear some words from the MILF representatives?
No. I think they donít like to say anything here. They
are not mandated to say anything here.
Do you think you have enough forces to crush the
No, I am not talking in terms of crushing here. We are
talking in terms of our right to self-defense. I tell
you, I even told this to General (Angelo) Reyes. Hindi
pagyayabang ito eh. (This is not boasting). In the
beginning I had nothing except one Kris but I was ready
to fight against the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
(President) Marcos at that time was known as the John F.
Kennedy of the Philippines. He was very, very popular.
And the Armed Forces was united. And he had very good
economy at that time. But I was ready with only one Kris
in defense of rights and in defense of justice.
Now, we have this huge number of forces. I am not
trying to boast here. If I could afford to fight against
the government with only one Kris in my hands, why not
now if there is a need for that. But I donít see it at
the moment. I am waiting for the last words from the OIC
and I am waiting for the last words from the Congress.
If the OIC will say that we are betrayed just as
the government also betrays them, and if the Congress
will say in resounding words that they want us to go
back to self-determination and independence, then be it.
But I would like to ask that they will not push us
against the wall because I want to resolve the remaining
problem of Mindanao through the peaceful and democratic
Q: Your comment on the ARMM election.
Kasi panloloko yan eh (Thatís foolishness). They are
just fooling around with us. The OIC told them not to
hold this election until 2003 because they have not
prepared the ground works for the people to make a good
decision. What can we do here? They sabotaged our
administration. They gave us money but they gave us by
droplets. What kind of government is this? I thought
when I signed the peace agreement they will going to
help us because they promised the mini-marshal plan of
reconstruction and rehabilitation. They said we would
start with P25 Billion for the period of 3 years. But
what happened? Now, how can you explain that to the
there are improvements in our infrastructure, the
circumferential road, the Kan Away coastal road, the
bridges, these are only through our initiatives. We are,
of course, thankful to (President) Estrada for giving us
the bridges. Despite everything we still thank him for
giving us the salam bridges. And of course the previous
government for giving us the budget in 1998 but they
tried to manipulate to cause our failure here.
Your reaction to the creation of the Executive Council
The Council of 15 is just an extension of the Philippine
colonialism. As the distinguished Islamic scholar here
was saying, this is the specter of the ghost of the past
trying to menace us again here. Philippine government is
trying to divide us. But they cannot divide us without
strengthening us. This is the paradox here. They tried
to divide the MNLF time and again only to strengthen the
But they say they have the support of Indonesia,
Malaysia and Libya. Do they have support from the OIC?
Well, I donít know. There are 56 Muslim states. And
among the most influential member is Saudi Arabia where
the headquarter is located. I donít know what Saudi
Arabia will say because when I went there to brief them
about the situation, they themselves are not that happy
of what is happening.
Are there any words of reconciliation between you and
the members of the council?
No more. They have to talk to the Congress, they have to
talk to the Central Committee. I have lost my patience
and I can only return back to the path of peace with
them and to the peace agreement if the Congress and the
Central Committee will say so. But on my own, no more
because I have been betrayed so many times. So I cannot
afford to allow myself to be betrayed again.
How true that Dr. Parouk Hussin is not a Filipino
Well, sila na ang bahala diyan. (Well, I leave that to
them). I used to hold his passport. The first time I
learned that he is not a Filipino citizen was when I met
(President) Ramos in Malacanang. I was asking Ramos to
appoint him as minister of health because Defense
Secretary De Villa before promised him. But Ramos told
me he couldnít appoint him because he is not a
Filipino citizen anymore.
I asked Ramos. I said, if that is the case Mr.
President, what about us? Ramos said that our case is
different because when we entered the Philippines we
used Philippine passport. But when Dr. Parouk Hussin
entered the Philippines he was using a foreign passport.
And by the operation of the law he has already renounced
his citizenship. But I insisted to Ramos that it was
only by the exigency of the situation. But Ramos said
the law is the law.
Q: Mr. Chairman what do you want the government to do?
I donít know now. I am getting tired of advising the
government. They donít listen to us. It is just like
shouting in the wilderness. It is better here although
this is a jungle place because if I talk people will
listen. But not to the people in Malacanang. They donít
listen to us anymore. They only want to listen to the
voice of those sycophants. They donít want to deal
with dignified people like us. They only want to deal
with people who are asking job everyday and hunkering
got mad at me because I have to stick to my principle. I
have the responsibility to my people and our cause. They
(government) are confused, and they are making everybody
confused and putting everything in disarray in Mindanao.
You are saying that you are waiting for the final words
from the OIC. What if the OIC will decide to unite the
MNLF and the MILF with only one leader? Would you or
Ustadz Salamat Hashim give way to one leadership?
Leadership is immaterial to us. I can go anywhere in
this world if it is needed. I am not after leadership. I
am only here after the service to my people. Thank you