Columnist claims Misuari helped Sulu siege to derail Bangsamoro peace deal

“We say it is autonomy but to the MILF, it is independence. Why else do they have a territory and an army? And they are recruiting their own police force.”

Clara Chooi, TMI

Despite his repeated denials, Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari had likely helped instigate the Sulu siege in Sabah to slow down the Bangsamoro peace deal or derail it entirely, a former Philippine military general alleged today.

In his column in the Manila Standard Today, Florencio Fianza claimed that Misuari, the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), had involved himself in the incursion after realising that should the Bangsamoro peace deal fall through, he would be “swept into the dustbin of history”.

“After all, he is the original fighter,” Fianza wrote, referring to Misuari’s establishment of the MNLF Muslim separatist group at the height of the Islamic insurgency in southern Philippines in the late 1960s.

Misuari (picture) has been repeatedly linked to the armed incursion on Sabah by followers of the Sulu sultanate, with talk that the rebel leader was upset at having been sidelined in the Bangsamoro peace deal brokered by Malaysia between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a splinter group of the MNLF.

Reports have claimed that the armed incursion by the Kirams of the Sulu sultanate, to whom Misuari has openly declared himself friendly with, would likely put the Bangsamoro peace deal on the back burner and even hamper bilateral relations between Malaysia and the Philippines.

But Misuari, despite agreeing with the sultanate’s reason for staging the incursion, has insisted several times that he had no hand in the Kiram clan’s siege over the north Borneo territory called Sabah.

A group of over 200 armed men led by the “crown prince” of the sultanate, Agbimuddin Kiram, had landed in Sabah on February 9 to stake the “royal family” claim over the state, citing historical records dating back to the 17th century.

To Fianza, what the Kiram family had done was to revive a longstanding issue of differences between the Tausugs or the Suluks and the Maranaws in the southern Philippines, which he said his government should have long dealt with.

The retired general pointed out that in the MILF-GPH (government of the Philippines) peace deal, the creation of the Bangsamoro would have essentially allowed the predominantly Maranaw-dominated MILF to rule over the Tausugs of Sulu.

Fianza said this was “unthinkable” to the Tausugs.

“My best educated guess is that Nur Misuari, in spite of his denials, had something to do with the intrusion,” the columnist wrote.

“Realising that he (Misuari) is slowly being swept into the dust bin of history with the creation of the Bangsamoro, he helped instigate the intrusion as a last-ditch effort to perhaps slow the process down or derail it.”