MNLF worries over claims that gov’t paid MILF to return SAF firearms

By , on February 24, 2015


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MANILA — The Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL) is worried about the statement of Catholic priest Eliseo Mercado claiming that the government paid for the return of 16 firearms taken by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the slain elite policemen during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Through a post on his Facebook account, Mercado said that his information came from a “respected MNLF leader.”

“My MNLF informant is highly placed in Central Maguindanao and close kin of the field commanders both of the 105th Base Command and the 118th Base Command of MILF… He is also a close kin to BIFF Leadership,” Mercado said.

The priest added, “He also is a close kin of the victims in Mamasapano. He is [an] A1 informant that even former President asks him for briefing of the realities and situation in Maguindanao.”

He added that the government paid MILF a total of P190,000 for each of the  16 firearms.

MNLF chair Muslimin Sema on Monday said Mercado’s statement was alarming as it may cause animosity between his group and the MILF.

“He should identify the official,” Sema said in order that “we can really ferret out the truth.”

“We don’t want to be construed as instigating intrigues that can cause animosity between the MILF and the MNLF,” he said, adding that his group was not at war with both the government and the MILF.

Meanwhile, MILF chief negotiator in the peace process with the government, Mohaqher Iqbal said that Mercado’s statement has indeed, affected the MILF’s efforts to restore confidence after the Mamasapano encounter.

“As a friend, I did not expect him to issue such statements without even informing us or consulting us about the alleged pay off before making public,” Iqbal said in Filipino.

“I vehemently deny the MILF received amount in exchange for the return of SAF (Special Action Force) firearms,” he added.