Moro National Liberation Front

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Moro National Liberation Front
Participant in South Philippines insurgency
MNLF flag.svg
Moro National Liberation Front (emblem).jpg
Flag and Logo of the MNLF
Active Late 1970 – present
Ideology Bangsamoro self-determination
Philippine Unitarism[1]
Leaders Nur Misuari
Headquarters Sulu
Area of operations Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan[citation needed]
Allies China Government of China[citation needed]
Malaysia Government of Malaysia (formerly)[2][3]
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation[citation needed]
Opponents Philippines Government of the Philippines

The Moro National Liberation Front or Mindanao National Liberation Front (MNLF) is a secessionist political organization in the Philippines that was founded by Nur Misuari in 1969.[4] The MNLF struggled against the Philippine Government (GPH) to achieve independence [5] of the Bangsamoro Land (or Bangsamoro Nation, or Mindanao Nation). The MNLF-GPH Peace Process is ongoing since the 1976 and both parties are working together to negotiate the terms and conditions of the legal framework and implementation of genuine autonomy as a peaceful path towards independence.[6] As defined by the MNLF, the territory of Bangsamoro Land covers Sulu, Mindanao and Palawan.[citation needed]

In 1996, the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippines government that saw the creation of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an area composed of two mainland provinces and three island provinces in which the predominantly Muslim population enjoys a degree of self-rule.[7] Nur Misuari was installed as the region's governor but his rule ended in violence when the former MNLF leader led a failed rebellion against the Philippines government in November 2001,[7] thus illegally escaping to Sabah, Malaysia before being deported back to the Philippines by the Malaysian authorities.[8][9]

MNLF is internationally recognized by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) and its Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States (PUIC).[10] Since 1977, the MNLF has been an observer member of the OIC.[11] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, and has membership of 57 states spread over four continents.[12] The Philippine Government also requested similar recognition as observer member but was denied by the OIC.[13] On January 30, 2012, MNLF became an observer member of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC), as approved during the 7th PUIC global session held in Palembang, Indonesia.[14]



The founder and leader of the MNLF is Prof. Dr. Nur Misuari. Based on almost all official communications of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Republic of the Philippines, Nur Misuari is addressed as the Chieftain of the Bangsamoro, Founder of the MNLF, Chairman of the MNLF, Leader of the MNLF, and Commander-in-Chief of the MNLF.

Despite the final peace agreement, Misuari was charged of rebellion over an alleged attack on a Philippine military camp in Sulu in 2001, which he and the MNLF denied. Nur Misuari became a political prisoner on charges of rebellion from 2001-2009 during the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Court acquitted him in 2009 because the prosecution was unable to produce sufficient evidence.

There has been a long-standing allegation that the Government of Malaysia provided the initial training and arming of the first batch of MNLF cadres known as "Top 90" in 1969.[2] Likewise, it has also been alleged that Malaysia was either seemingly ignorant or tolerated the illicit arms shipments, mainly from the Middle East, flowing into Mindanao that fueled the insurgency.[15]

Cause of the armed rebellions[edit]

There is no exact record as to when the MNLF was founded.[16] However, the MNLF have traditionally been celebrating its anniversary every March 18, a date that coincides with the commemoration of the Jabidah Massacre.

According to the official MNLF blog-site, "in 18 March 1968, between 14 to 68 Filipino Muslim military trainees were massacred in Corregidor by soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under its Commander in Chief President Ferdinand Marcos. It was popularly called the Jabidah Massacre.[17] The impact was an outrage among the Muslims in Mindanao especially those who are from Sulu where these military trainees were recruited. Not taking this lightly, Nur Misuari, a University of the Philippines professor rose to become the leader of this outraged group and he founded the Moro National Liberation Front in 1969. After a few months of setting up the organization, the MNLF officially proclaimed itself a political party in 1970. After recruiting sufficient number of freedom fighters, the MNLF launched a protracted armed struggle."[18]

"At that time of the conception of the MNLF, it recruited members with an original objective of regaining the independence of the Bangsamoro People and separate its sovereignty from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRPH)."

"The MNLF proclaimed itself a Mindanao liberation movement and proceeded to start the insurgency against the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The seven years (1969–1976) of intense armed conflict between MNLF and the GRPH resulted in the deaths of thousands of government soldiers and MNLF freedom fighters, as well as the displacement of thousands of families all across the Bangsamoro Land."

"Another important event in the MNLF history is the Tacbil Mosque Massacre. In 24 September 1974, a total of 1776 Muslim churchgoers were massacred by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao. While the Muslims were praying, they were sprayed with bullets by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As of 2011, a marker in the massacre site reads:"

Bangsamoro Republik Moro National Liberation Front Hadji Hamsa Tacbil Mosque Malisbong, Palimbang Province of Sultan Kudarat... This old mosque was constructed and owned by late Hadji Hamsa Tacbil, a former strong MNLF finance supporter. Tacbil mosque a placed where more than one thousand muslims civilians was massacred by philippine army 15th 1B infantry battalion on 24 september 1974 under the regime of then President Fedinand E. Marcos. Compliment by Comdr Tuan Bazar G Tacbil (MNLF) and Tacbil Family[19]

Splits of the group[edit]

There are three major groups that had separated from the MNLF, namely:


Flag of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, currently became the second largest rebels in the southern Philippines.

The first separatist of the MNLF was the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 1976 which was led by Hashim Salamat.[20] The MILF separated from MNLF for two reasons: (1) MILF believes that the Bangsamoro Land should be an Independent Islamic State, and (2) the Bangsamoro freedom fighters should not negotiate with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The first and original name of MILF was "New MNLF". The MNLF believes that the MILF was formed as a result of the infiltration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and strategic move to "divide-and-conquer" the MNLF. The MNLF believes that the MILF is being used by the AFP in False Flag Operations. Hashim Salamat died in 2003 at age 61, new leadership took over and the organization still exists as of 2011. The only GPH administration that negotiated with the MILF was the Arroyo Administration and the peace talk workload was inherited by the Aquino Administration. There are international observers who classify MILF as a Terrorist Organization, such as the Council on Foreign Relations.[21] Despite MILF killing of many Philippine soldiers and policemen,[22] the Philippine Government admitted that it is funding the MILF.[23] The MNLF disapproves the idea that GPH is negotiating with the MILF. The MNLF believes that it will be more efficient for the MILF to just return to its mother organization. While the MILF leaders insist on negotiating with the GPH, the MILF troops on the ground have gradually begun to return to the MNLF.[24] The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), led by Ameril Umbra Kato (one of the MILF commanders who perpetrated the 2008 Kauswagan Massacre), broke away from the MILF in 2010 because he was not included in the MILF-GPH Peace Process.

Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)[edit]

Main article: Abu Sayyaf

The second separatist of the MNLF is the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) led by Khadaffy Janjalani in 1991. This group was originally part of the so-called National Islamic Command Council (NICC) which was an Anti-Misuari group led by Melham Alam, the MNLF's sacked Chief of Staff in 1990. It was NICC who burned the Town of Ipil in April 1995. Abu Sayyaf is intolerant to other religions and called for continuous Jihad to pursue a pure Islamic State and believes in the "killing of enemies" and "depriving them of their wealth" (kidnap for ransom). The MNLF believes that the Abu Sayyaf was formed as a result of the black operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to smear dirt on the face of Islam and scare the people against the Muslims. The MNLF believes that the Abu Sayyaf enjoyed the support of the AFP. Khadaffy Janjalani died in December 18, 1998, new leadership took over and the organization still exists as of 2014.

In February 2, 2013, when MNLF Commander Habier Malik and his men attacked ASG in Patikul Sulu in an effort to rescue kidnapped victims Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani, TV cameraman Ramil Vela (Filipino), and audio technician Rolando Letrero (Filipino), Ewold Horn (Dutch citizen kidnapped by ASG on February 1, 2012), Lorenzo Vinceguerre (Swiss citizen kidnapped by ASG on February 1, 2012), Warren Rodwell (Australian citizen kidnapped by ASG on December 5, 2011), and Japanese Toshio Ito (Japanese citizen kidnapped by ASG in July 2010), the GPH troops did not help in the hot pursuit because the Philippine President made a statement that he did not sanction the attack against the terror group.[25][26] In a press conference on February 9, 2013, MNLF leader Nur Misuari said that "MNLF leadership would no longer tolerate the Abu Sayyaf using Sulu as a haven for criminal activities, victimizing locals and foreigners alike".[27]


The 15EC came to being in 2001 during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They called themselves MNLF Central Committee or MNLF Executive Council, the leaders are 15 leaders of MNLF who turned against Nur Misuari for reasons similar to that of Abu Sayyaf and MILF. It was often called a hostile takeover by proxy of the Philippine government. The 15-man Council successfully took over the leadership and the Arroyo administration made Nur Misuari a political prisoner from 2001 until he was acquitted in December 2009. While Nur Misuari was politically persecuted,[28] the pro-Misuari MNLF faction laid low from 2001 until his comeback in 2010. The separatist MNLF faction does not have any official name, but is popularly called as 15EC. The 15EC are no longer considered as one with the MNLF because they violated the One MNLF Doctrine. In one of the speeches[29] of this 15EC, they said: "On Misuari, he is the founding chairman of the MNLF. He was the leader of the MNLF and he has represented the MNLF for a long period until the MNLF Central Committee stripped him of his powers in April 1, 2008, for his incompetence and for lack of direction. The continued recognition by the GRP of Nur Misuari is seen by the Moro people as a low intensity conflict strategy by the Government to perpetuate the division of the MNLF...The apparent continued recognition by the OIC Secretary-General of Bro. Nur is immaterial to the MNLF central committee."

The over 200 members of the 15EC were all officially expelled from the MNLF in October 10, 2013 for at least one of the various reasons, such as, but not limited to: (1) factionalism and other forms of disloyalty to the One MNLF Doctrine, (2) counterfeiting the negotiations and sabotaging the MNLF-GPH peace process, (3) participating in fraudulent transactions, accepting bribes from, and defection to the GPH and other opposite counterpart of the MNLF, (4) collaborating in acts of terrorism and armed-conflict-related human trafficking.[30]

Peace talks[edit]

All peace talks and negotiations between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRPH) are participated in, brokered, mediated, facilitated, and coordinated by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Heavy fighting started in 1970 and the first peace talk was in 1976. The GRPH, after losing many soldiers in six years of fighting with the MNLF, coupled with the economic crisis brought about by oil embargo imposed by the OIC, decided to initiate a move to convince Nur Misuari to sit on a negotiation table for a peace talk. President Marcos sent his first lady Imelda Marcos to Tripoli, Libya to request the assistance of Muammar al-Gaddafi to broker a ceasefire and peace negotiation between GRPH and MNLF. In 1976, Gaddafi played a very big role in successfully brokered Nur Misuari and President Marcos to sign an international treaty called the 1976 MNLF-GRPH Tripoli Agreement. The treaty was witnessed and recognized by the OIC.[20]

The 1976 Tripoli agreement provided for a general ceasefire and called for autonomy under the broad principle that Mindanao would remain an integral part of the Republic of the Philippines. After thirteen years, the 1989 Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Organic Act was enacted into a law, wherein thirteen provinces (eight of which had Christian majorities) were proclaimed subject to the provisions of the agreement, which allowed Muslims their own courts, schools and administrative system. In 1996, the MNLF-GRPH signed a Final Peace Agreement, which provides that the Autonomous Region for Muslims would have a legislative assembly, executive council, special regional security forces, and economic and financial system.

Treaties and agreements between the MNLF and the Philippine government[edit]

According to the Official MNLF Blogsite, below are the major agreements made by the MNLF.[18]

1976 Tripoli Agreement during Pres. Ferdinand Marcos[edit]

After years of intense fighting between the MNLF and the GRPH, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) finally interceded. In 1976, Libyan politician Moammar Gadhafi brokered the negotiation between the GRPH and MNLF Leader Nur Misuari. The outcome of the negotiation was the signing of the MNLF-GRPH Tripoli Agreement of 1976.[31] The 1976 Tripoli Agreement essentially made MNLF and GRPH meet in a compromise agreement to establish an Autonomous Region in the Bangsamoro Land. The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 is the basis of the mandate of the MNLF, with Nur Misuari as the only one recognized leader, to represent the Bangsamoro People in its struggle for freedom. Out of the twenty-five (25) provinces claimed by the MNLF for Independence, the Tripoli Agreement negotiations settled to a compromise of thirteen (13) provinces to be included in the formation of an Autonomous Government for the Bangsamoro People, namely: Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, Palawan.

Despite the signing of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the fighting still continued on the ground between the AFP of President Marcos and the MNLF because of the absence of a clear guideline on the implementing rules and regulation of the Tripoli Agreement.

After securing the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, Marcos went ahead and held a referendum, which seemed to indicate opposition to the inclusion of certain provinces, opposition to the degree of autonomy presumably wanted by the MNLF and support for Marcos’ plan for two autonomous regions with 10 provinces under central control. The initial ceasefire, which was beneficial to Misuari as it gave his battle-weary troops time to rest (an opportunity welcomed with equal relief by the Armed Forces of the Philippines), eventually worked against the MNLF's interests. While the MNLF was relaxing, the AFP infiltrated it with a "divide-and-conquer" strategy. As a result, in 1976, the MNLF suffered from internal factionalism as disagreements between moderates and conservatives. In 1981, the internal differences finally caused the birth of a more extremist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) faction to officially break off from the MNLF. The existence of the MILF translates into a continuing insurgency confronting the GRPH.

1989 ARMM Organic Act during Pres. Corazon Aquino[edit]

In 1986, President Marcos was ousted by a popular revolt called People Power 1. In 1987, the new President of the Republic of the Philippines Corazon Aquino visited Nur Misuari in his home province in Sulu to talk peace with him. The humility and courage of Cory Aquino softened the warrior heart of Nur Misuari. In 1987, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) became part of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. On August 1, 1989, the ARMM was created through Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the ARMM Organic Act in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an ARMM. This law was further amended in 2001 and popularly became known as R.A. 9054 ARMM Organic Act - 2001 Amendment.[32]

1994 Joint Ceasefire Ground Rules during Pres. Fidel Ramos[edit]

In January 20, 1994, the MNLF and GRPH signed a Joint Guidelines and Ground Rules for the Implementation of the 1993 Interim GRP-MNLF Ceasefire Agreement.[33] This agreement covers MNLF identified areas (MNLF zones) including the following provinces:

In this agreement, the GRPH is mandated to authorize the MNLF to carry their firearms within MNLF identified areas; and GRPH may carry their firearms only in the performance of their official functions. The GRPH shall also authorize the MNLF VIPs to carry sidearms and shall provide additional security when moving in urban areas outside the MNLF zones.

1996 Final Peace Agreement during Pres. Fidel Ramos[edit]

President Fidel Ramos succeeded President Corazon Aquino in 1992 and he relentlessly pursued peace by running after Nur Misuari using persistent diplomatic emissaries. In 1993, the Philippine Government signed a Joint Ceasefire Agreement with the MNLF. In 1994, the Joint Ceasefire Ground Rules between the MNLF and GRPH was finalized. This 1994 MNLF-GRPH Joint Ceasefire Ground Rules, which is still in effect as of 2011, grants the MNLF to possess and carry firearms in the 13 Provinces stipulated in the Tripoli Agreement and the MNLF Officials may carry sidearms when moving in areas outside the 13 Provinces. In 1996, a compromise was finally reached by MNLF and the government and the MNLF-GRP 1996 Final Peace Agreement was signed[20] by Ambassador Manual Tan (GRPH), Nur Misuari (MNLF Chairman), and Ali Alatas (Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and Chairman of the OIC).[34] As of 2011, the 1996 Final Peace Agreement is the framework of talks and negotiation to determine implementing rules and guidelines.

Zamboanga City crisis and self-declaration of Bangsamoro Republik[edit]

On January 15, 2012, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) declared the Independence of Bangsamoro Land (Sulu, Mindanao, Palawan, Sabah) in Valencia Bukidnon.[35]

According to the MNLF page in Facebook,[vague] the MNLF plans to establish Mindanao as a new nation that is composed of a federation of four sub-states, namely: (1) Substate of Mindanao, (2) Substate of Sulu, (3) Substate of Bangsamoro, and (4) Substate of Compostela. Mindanao will be an egalitarian State. Sulu and Bangsamoro will be Islamic States. Compostela will be a Socialist State. The leadership of the federation will rotate between the four States. The federation will also guarantee freedom of migration across Sub-States.[36]

Current status[edit]

On the GRPH side, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) formed a legal panel represented the MNLF, GRP and mediated by the OIC. The legal panel has now completed and initialed the final agreement on revising RA 9054 and it moves forward into Congress for revision/replacement of RA 9054 to create a genuine autonomy.

The administration of President Noynoy Aquino framework of program for Mindanao is spelled out in Mindanao 2020.[37] Pres. Aquino said that "Mindanao will be at the core of our social development and poverty alleviation programs."

At present, the MNLF is becoming apprehensive about the GRPH capability in taking a lead in implementing the Genuine Autonomy in the Bangsamoro Land for the following reasons:

  1. High Poverty Incidence in Philippines — some 20.5 percent of Filipinos or about 4.1 million families are going hungry while 51 percent, or some 10.4 million families, consider themselves poor, according to a new survey by pollster Social Weather Stations.[38] The 2011 Hunger Incidence Index Report for Philippines in 2010 is 11.5%.
  2. Economic Mismanagement by the GRPH — Philippines has become the second least attractive investment site in ASEAN.[39]
  3. Incorrigible Culture of Corruption in the GRPH — the PERC Survey that says Philippines is most corrupt nation in Asia;[40] and a lot of Philippine politicians are entangled with systematic stealing of billions of pesos of Philippine taxpayers' money.[41]
  4. High Human Rights Abuses by the GRPH — According to Pulse Asia study, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is most corrupt agency of the Philippine Government.[42] The United Nations Security Council and the U.S. State Department also reported a high incidence of human rights violation by the AFP. Instances of torture in detention cells of the Philippine National Police have also been reported by other sources.[43] The Philippine government forces were also trained and initiated into the organization using inhumane methods such as torture, hazing, and maltreatment; thus making each of them tolerant to the sight of human suffering.[44]

In February 23, 2011 the MNLF-GRPH-OIC had a fourth tri-partite talks in Jeddah. The Joint Communique after the talks indicate that three groups of experts from MNLF-GRPH-OIC-IDB will be formed: (1) to formulate the Terms of Reference of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund by May 30, 2011, (2) to act as Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee by April 30, 2011, (3) to formulate the Mineral Sharing agreement by April 30, 2011. They set a timetable and deadline to present the result to OIC Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP) Chairman in Kazakhstan in June 2011. They did not meet the deadline because the topic is too complicated and the debates went on and on without a resolution.

After almost a year of stalemate, in March 1, 2012, there was a MNLF-GPH High-Level Talks in Bandung Indonesia to discuss the three pending items enumerated February 23, 2011 the MNLF-GRPH-OIC had a fourth tri-partite talks in Jeddah. On the second day of the talks, the MNLF walked-out and unilaterally decided to suspend its participation in the peace process talks and activities with the GPH.[45] The date March 2, 2012 marks the day when MNLF unilaterally suspends its participation in the Peace Talks with the GPH.

The stalemate was on the Mineral Revenue Sharing. Mineral Sharing is about how the ARMM Regional Government (ARMM RG) and Philippine National Government (Ph NG) would set policies to regulate mineral exploitation and agree on the percentage sharing of the revenues from Mineral extraction in the ARMM Area. They could not end the dispute about definition and classification of Minerals because none of the negotiators on both sides are Mineral experts.

Another stalemate of the negotiation is that the MNLF was also hesitant on the percentage sharing because the sharing is between ARMM RG and PH NG. MNLF is neither part of ARMM RG, nor part of Ph NG. If Nur Misuari could have been the incumbent ARMM Regional Governor at that time of the negotiation, for sure a resolution could have been arrived at. The stalemate on Mineral Sharing can be resolved when Nur Misuari becomes ARMM Regional Governor.

In October 8, 2012, the MNLF confirmed Nur Misuari's filing of candidacy for ARMM Regional Governor for the 2013 elections.[46]

In October 10, 2012, the MNLF reiterated their position on the suspension of MNLF participation in the talks with the GPH, enumerating the demands before they go back to the negotiating table.[47]

In October 14, 2012, the MNLF confirms alliance with Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) that will be formally announced in the MNLF Summit in October 21, 2012 Sunday, starting 8AM to be held in Davao Crocodile Park, Riverfront Corporate City, Diversion Highway, Maa, Davao City.[48][49]

In the middle of January 2013, the MNLF moved a large troop to attempt to negotiate the release of kidnap victims. The negotiation went bad, resulting in MNLF launching an immediate citizen's arrest against Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) operating in Patikul Sulu. This MNLF combat operation is still ongoing.[50][51][52]

In January 21, 2013, at the 8th Session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation, the MNLF renewed "its support for the peace agreement signed between the Philippine Government and the MNLF and call for immediate and complete execution of the terms of the agreement." The PUIC responded by urging "member States as well as charity institutions in the Islamic world to increase the volume of its humanitarian assistance for Muslims in South Philippines in order to accelerate economic and social development".[53]

In February 6–7, 2013, the MNLF attended the 12th Session of the organization of Islamic Cooperation held in Cairo, Egypt. The communiqué of the OIC’s 12th Session reiterates the need to resolve the issue of Muslims in Southern Philippines promptly; and urges the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MNLF to continue their efforts in order to find solution to pending issues, consistent with the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), related to the autonomous region, revenue sharing, definition of strategic minerals, and the transitional mechanisms.[54]

In June 1, 2014, the MNLF published their conditions and willingness to cooperate with the GPH in the implementation of the 1996 MNLF-GPH Final Peace Agreement (FPA) Section 20(a) says, "There shall be a special socioeconomic, cultural and educational program to cater to MNLF ... to prepare them and their families for productive endeavors, provide for educational, technical skills and livelihood training and give them priority for hiring in development projects."[55]

In May 17, 2015, Misuari has called for a meeting with top MNLF officials on May 20 to discuss the recent updates on the peace negotiations in Mindanao. The meeting is intend to discuss on how the MNLF as a permanent observer to the OIC will “present the sad case of the Philippine government under President Benigno S. Aquino III, who has repeatedly shown disrespect to the 1996 peace agreement by totally ignoring the comprehensive and correct implementation of the international accord”. The MNLF also hinted that Misuari might attend Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) meeting in Kuwait on the same month where he will have the opportunity to present the disappointment of the MNLF over the alleged sidelining of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.[56]

In May 29, 2015, MNLF published the proposed Moro Administrative Region Law (MAR Law),[57] (MAR LAW in the notes section of OneMNLF page in Facebook), which is a counter proposal to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) of the MILF. The proposed MAR Law is designed as an upgrade of the ARMM Organic Act, aimed towards full integration of the Moro People into the Philippine System. The vital features of the proposed MAR Law include (1) creation of the Moro Administrative Region Development Council, (2) establishment of the Official Registry of the Moro People which requires the member to express an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, (3) establishment of Moro Administrative Region Non-Stock Savings and Loan Association, and (4) appropriation and performance measurement of the MAR, among others. Compared to the P70Billion being asked by MILF's BBL, the MAR Law only requires P5Billion initial outlay to construct the MAR Headquarters and around P300Million per annum budget for the MARDC. MAR Law's requirement for private sector participation provides a leash to armed groups (MNLF, MILF, Sultanates) that sanctions their privilege of preferential employment to economic development projects if they make trouble with peace and order. It also allows the people of Sabah to voluntarily register their own selves in the Official Registry of the Moro People (ORMP).[citation needed]

In October 12, 2015, John Petalcorin, MNLF Director for Advocacy, filed for Certificate of Candidacy for Senator for the Philippine national election in 2016.


According to the Official MNLF blog-site, "the MNLF ideology is called egalitarianism[58] which affirms, promotes, or characterizes a principled belief in the equality of all people in the political, economic, social, and civil rights aspects regardless of differences in religion, race, ethnic origin, age, and gender."[18][59] MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari mentioned the "Egalitarian State" in one of his interviews.[60] Contrary to the notion that MNLF is an Islamic Organization, the MNLF claims to be composed of Muslims, Christians, tribal Lumads, and any other religions who respect each other under the harmony of religious tolerance.[18]

With reference to the official MNLF blog-site, "the MNLF believes that the Bangsamoro Land is already a sovereign nation hundreds of years before it was illegally annexed as part of the Philippines in the 1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines."[18]

Mindanao became a land for new beginnings when broad tracts of land were given away by the Philippine government from 1903 to the 1970s to migrants from other parts of the country in a so-called Homestead Program.,[61] akin to Indonesia's transmigrasi. There was no land titling system by the natives of Mindanao at that time. The Philippine government took advantage of the absence of land titles to give away lots in Mindanao to poor farmers and other migrants from other parts of the country. Mindanao saw itself as the adopted home of a rapidly burgeoning population of Christian settlers who encroached on the living areas of the original Muslim and tribal residents, who now began to feel that they were also being robbed of their lands and the economic opportunities they provided.[62]

With that systematic encroachment, the natives, especially the original Muslim and Lumad segments, developed a deep-seated mistrust of the officials of the Philippine government, a government under which they felt they were being treated as second-class citizens. Sporadic fighting in various parts of Mindanao ensued between the natives and the troops/militias of the Philippine government.[63] Due to this, Mindanao become a battle ground of intense armed conflict; even the Americans sent forces to battle frontiers in Mindanao.

During the 1970s, President Ferdinand Marcos formed the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force). ILAGA is a Christian militia which claims to defend Christians from attacks perpetrated by Muslims. The ILAGA was one of the groups who fiercely fought against the MNLF. After over three decades, in the year 2011, the ILAGA embraced the egalitarian ideology of MNLF and have joined forces.[64]

External relations policy[edit]

The MNLF does not take sides in armed conflict or insurgencies outside the Bangsamoro Land. MNLF is neither associated with, connected with, providing tactical experience or expertise to, advocating for, financially supporting, nor organizationally allied with any other international or domestic insurgency or terrorist organizations. MNLF is stand-alone and is not open to any talks towards the possibility of partnership or collaboration with any other insurgency or terrorist groups. The MNLF advocates the use of negotiation and peaceful means to settle conflicts. The MNLF is willing to provide Hijra (sanctuary) to anyone who is a victim of atrocities of war, political persecution, and/or forced migration. Large troop movements and assault operation of the armed MNLFs are led by a Ground Commander, always coordinated with the government, and usually in line with the responsibility of the members in a specific MNLF community to conduct a citizen's arrest against heavily armed lawless groups or in hot pursuit to rescue kidnap victims and hostages.[citation needed]


According to the MNLF blog site,[where?] "The major opponents of the MNLF are the Government of the Philippines (GPH). The territories claimed by the MNLF are Mindanao and Palawan.[citation needed] The MNLF-GPH dispute is rooted on their conflicting political direction -- GPH wants Mindanao, Palawan and Sulu to continue as part of the Philippines while MNLF wants secession from Philippines. In 2015, in a recent statement by the group founder Nur Misuari, he reject any reports from the MNLF peace panel spokesperson Absalom Cerveza on the MNLF involvement in the Sabah issue and said only the Sultanate of Sulu can pursue the negotiations for the Sabah claim with the Malaysian sides. The MNLF has asserted that their group are not involved in any part of the Sabah case and stressing it is a non-issue as Sabah has become the “home-base for different tribal groupings of Muslims from different regions of Southeast Asia that have enjoyed peaceful and harmonious co-existence with the Chinese and Christian populace in the area”.[56] MNLF also treats United States and China as friendly parties".[65]


Flag meaning[edit]

According to the MNLF Director for Advocacy,[66] the symbols in the MNLF flag represent the harmony of the Bangsamoro heart, mind, and body.

"The STAR symbolizes the Bangsamoro virtues of TRUTHFULNESS, FAIRNESS, EQUALITY, and TOLERANCE to individual differences which guides the judgement of the leaders and people of the Bangsamoro Land. The color of the star is yellow gold. The CRESCENT MOON symbolizes the Bangsamoro WISDOM as we endlessly journey through Political Changes, Technological Progress, and Economic Development. The color of the Crescent Moon is yellow gold. The KRIS SWORD symbolizes Bangsamoro STRENGTH which defends our People's Freedom, Native Culture, Peacefulness, and Territorial Integrity. The Color of the Kris Sword is white with a yellow strip and its handle have five black stripes. The Kris Sword is at the lower center and pointed to the right, which means the sword will always make loyalty decisions for the interest of the Bangsamoro motherland. Above the Kris Sword is the Crescent Moon at the middle left side. Above the Crescent Moon is the Star. The background of the flag has a color Red, which represents the Bangsamoro activism, decisiveness, persistence, frugality, and sacrifices in pushing forward the revolutionary struggle for survival, self-determination, and prosperity. The MNLF Flag does not represent symbols of any religious, geographical, or ethnic groups. Through time, various MNLF units have introduced many unique design of the flag. The most common designs are (A) the sword is a straight-type kris and not the wavy type, (B) the star is outside the crescent moon, (C) there are Arabic or Tribal alphabetic markings".[citation needed]


Terrorism and human rights issues[edit]

There is a United Nations Security Council Report[67] in April 23, 2010 that says that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and New People's Army (NPA) are among the groups around the world that recruit and use children. By contrast, in the report the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is not mentioned as a human rights violator. In a separate corroborating report, the United States Department of State also had a 2009 Human Rights Report[68] and it has never mentioned MNLF as a violator. On October 28, 2011, the Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that some members of the Abu Sayyaf are related to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and even government officials.[69][70]

However, during a recent Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) standoff with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Zamboanga City in 2013, their group was also found to have breaching against human rights by using civilians as a human shield,[71][72][73] thus making them been labelled as a "terrorist" by the AFP and Philippine government.[73]


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  2. ^ a b Tan, Andrew T/H. (2009). A Handbook of Terrorism and Insurgency in Southeast Asia. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 230, 238. ISBN 1847207189. 
  3. ^ "Philippines rebel leader arrested". BBC News. November 25, 2001. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015. Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police Norian Mai said Mr Misuari and six of his followers were arrested at 3.30 am on Saturday (1930 GMT Friday) on Jampiras island off Sabah state. Manila had ordered his arrest on charges of instigating a rebellion after the government suspended his governorship of an autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, the ARMM. Although the Philippines has no extradition treaty with Malaysia, the authorities have already made clear that they intend to hand Mr Misuari over to the authorities in Manila as soon as possible. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said before the arrest that, although his country had provided support to the rebel group in the past in its bid for autonomy, Mr Misuari had not used his powers correctly. "Therefore, we no long feel responsible to provide him with any assistance," he said. 
  4. ^ "Under the Crescent Moon". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Focus on the Philippines". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Rltr. John R. Petalcorin". YouTube. Retrieved January 26, 2015. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b "The Philippines and Terrorism". Anti-Defamation League. April 2004. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  8. ^ Barbara Mae Dacanay (December 20, 2001). "Nur Misuari seeks asylum in Malaysia". Gulf News. Archived from the original on July 5, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Nur Misuari to be repatriated to stand trial". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. December 20, 2001. Archived from the original on July 5, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ "PUIC". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  11. ^ List of Observer Members of Organization of Islamic Conference
  12. ^ About the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  13. ^ "Philippines Denied Observer Status in OIC". The Bangsa Moro blog. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  14. ^ PUIC Approved MNLF as Observer in Palembang Meet
  15. ^ Lino Miani (2011). The Sulu Arms Market: National Responses to a Regional Problem. Institute of Southeast Asian. pp. 72–. ISBN 978-981-4311-11-3. 
  16. ^ MNLF: When? Who? Commentary by Particio P. Diaz, February 2011[dead link]
  17. ^ Jabidah Massacre
  18. ^ a b c d e About the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF Official Blogsite)[dead link][unreliable source?]
  19. ^ Official MNLF blogsite the MNLF Director for Advocacy Communication, January 5, 2011.[dead link][unreliable source?]
  20. ^ a b c "The CenSEI Report (Vol. 2, No. 13, April 2-8, 2012)". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Terrorism Havens: Philippines". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Terrorism Watch: MILF kills more soldiers in Zamboanga". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Gov’t not to allow false reports to undermine peace process". Tempo - News in a Flash. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  24. ^ Exodus of MILF Members to MNLF
  25. ^ "Abu splits into smaller groups, says MNLF official". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  26. ^ MNLF move vs Abu Sayyaf not sanctioned by government - Aquino
  27. ^ "Misuari to Abu Sayyaf: Enough, we cannot tolerate you forever". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  28. ^ "AFP mulls international complaint vs NPAs". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  29. ^ Speech of Sema in Congressional Committee Hearing of 13 Dec 2010
  30. ^ "MASTERLIST OF EXPELLED MNLFs". Retrieved January 26, 2015. [dead link][unreliable source?]
  31. ^ MNLF-GRPH Tripoli Agreement of 1976[dead link][unreliable source?]
  32. ^ RA 9054 ARMM Organic Act - 2001 Amendment[dead link][unreliable source?]
  33. ^ 1994 MNLF-GRPH Joint Ceasefire Guidelines and Ground Rules[dead link][unreliable source?]
  34. ^ MNLF-GRP 1996 Final Peace Agreement[dead link][unreliable source?]
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  37. ^ Mindanao 2020, Businessworld, November 2010
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  39. ^ Philippines as 2nd least attractive investment portfolio in ASEAN, The Manila Times, March 2011[dead link]
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  42. ^ Pulse Asia study: AFP most corrupt agency in Philippines, March 2011[dead link]
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  44. ^ AFP Torture Training[dead link]
  45. ^ "MNLF technical panel ‘walks out’ in final peace agreement talks". Tempo - News in a Flash. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  46. ^ 8 October 2012 MNLF Facebook Timeline: Re: Maas filing for candidacy for ARMM Governor[dead link][unreliable source?]
  47. ^ 10 October 2012 MNLF Facebook Timeline: Is it true that MNLF will soon be lifting its participation in the Peace Talks?[dead link][unreliable source?]
  48. ^ On 14 October 2012 MNLF Facebook Timeline: Response on Phil Star article titled "MNLF official appeals for support for peace deal"[dead link][unreliable source?]
  49. ^ "MNLF official appeals for support for peace deal". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  50. ^ Sustaining the MNLF Troops vs Abu Sayyaf Group[dead link][unreliable source?]
  51. ^ "Misuari to Abu Sayyaf: Enough, we cannot tolerate you forever". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  52. ^ Link to MNLF Press Release plus Questions and Answers on the MNLF Attack against Abu Sayyaf Group[dead link][unreliable source?]
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  54. ^ "OIC 12th Session Press Release and Communique Egypt Feb 2013.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
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  56. ^ a b Karlos Manlupig (17 May 2015). "MNLF denies talks with Malaysia over Sabah". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015. Misuari, who is hiding after the hostilities in Zamboanga in 2013, maintains his position that only the Sultanate of Sulu can pursue the negotiations for the Sabah claim. Respecting the fervent wish of the late Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Kiram III to let alone the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB) to negotiate peacefully with the Muslim leaders of Malaysia to settle the controversial issue in order not to repeat the March 2013 Lahad Datu, Sabah incident, Chairman Misuari has dismissed the media reports as unfounded and without any ounce of truth involving the MNLF in any level talks. The MNLF, however, asserted that the Sabah case is a non-issue because it is the “home-base for different tribal groupings of Muslims from different regions of Southeast Asia that have enjoyed peaceful and harmonious co-existence with the Chinese and Christian populace in the area. 
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  64. ^ "MNLF ilaga Cmdr Inday Ligaya follows the leadership of Nur Misuari". YouTube. Retrieved January 26, 2015. [unreliable source?]
  65. ^ Malaysia's Intervention in Philippines[dead link][unreliable source?]
  66. ^ Rltr. John R. Petalcorin. "Voice from the Resistance". Retrieved January 26, 2015. [unreliable source?]
  67. ^ UN Security Council Report, 23 April 2010
  68. ^ "2009 Human Rights Report: Philippines". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  69. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profiles - START - National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism". Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  70. ^ the CNN Wire Staff (October 15, 2012). "Rebel leaders, Filipino officials set to sign landmark peace deal -". CNN. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  71. ^ Carmela Lapeña; Amita Legaspi (September 9, 2013). "MNLF attacks Zambo City, using 20 hostages as 'human shields;' six killed". Reuters. GMA News. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  72. ^ Titus Calauor; Benjie Vergara; Al Jacinto (September 11, 2013). "Human shields beg for help". Agence France Presse. The Manila Times. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  73. ^ a b Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III (November 27, 2013). "Resolution directing the appropriate Senate Committee's, to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the motives, behind the Zamboanga City siege in September 2013 which resulted in a humanitarian crisis in the said city, with the end in view of enacting measures to prevent the reccurrence of a similar incident in the future" (PDF). Philippine Senate. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]