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MILF wracked by defections

Misuari claims to have won over 4 commanders to his side
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is being riddled with defections and its leader Ebrahim Murad is purportedly offering to pay the leaders of the defection P5 million each to stay with his group and stop obstructing the Framework Agreement it forged with the government. Gapul Hadjirul, political director of the Moro National Liberation Front central committee, said at least four MILF commanders have defected to the MNLF because they supposedly feel betrayed by Murad. “He betrayed his supporters when he conspired with the Malaysians in entering into a Framework Agreement that is a deception by the government and a conspiracy with the Americans to attain their secret objective in Mindanao,” Hadjirul told MST Sunday in a telephone interview. Hadjirul identified the four commanders as Samer Samsudin Lungkatay, Samer Salamat, Abdulwahid Jainalan and a certain Saidale. Samsudin is the former chairman of the MILF Council of Ulamas while Salamat is the brother of deceased MILF founder Hashim Salamat and allegedly commands some 8,000 MILF troops. Jianalan, on the other hand, is supposedly Murad’s former security chief who commands about 6,500 fighters. Saidale is allegedly a new commander who is the leader of 1,500 armed men. “Murad is very upset at the defection of Samsudin,” Hadjirul said, adding that Samsuddin had already met with MNLF leader Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City where they swore allegiance to the MNLF. Hadjirul said Misuari appointed chairman of the MNLF Council of Ulamas and member of the MNLF central committee. Murad was so upset with the defection that he offered pay Samsudin P5 million so he would settle differences with the MILF leadership. “Murad through an emissary asked Samsudin and [renegade MILF commander Ameril Umbra] Kato to return to the MILF in exchange for P10 million,” Hadjirul said, quoting a source from within Murad’s inner circle. “The money that was to be used was the money given by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak,” Hadjirul added, but “95 percent of the MILF that defected to the MNLF rejected the offer outright.” Asked about the alleged payoff, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda refused to comment on Hadjirul’s allegations. “I think we are the wrong person to react,” Lacierda said in a text message. “Let the MILF respond to that first... Peace is its own dividend.” But Hadjirul maintained that “Murad is trying his best to convince his former elite commanders to reunify with him in a bid to pursue the peace treaty and demonstrate to the entire country that they are united in the aspiration of the Mindanao people.” “We want the truth about the Mindanao problem to surface, but the problem is the government is covering up the matter. We don’t know what real agenda and motives are, but it seems to us that their primary intention is to divide Bangasa Moro people. Instead of promoting peace, they are creating a semblance of war,” Hadjirul added.
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