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MNLF leaders’ gathering on peace in Zambo misconstrued as an attack

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By Nonoy E. Lacson

Zamboanga City — About 100 high-ranking leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) coming from all over Mindanao convened in this city Thursday in what the city government initially thought was in preparation for an attack but ended peacefully when the leader of the MNLF assured that they were there to pursue peace and development in Mindanao.

City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco was reportedly given the information that the gathering of the MNLF leaders in this city was aimed at soliciting a mass-based support for the group’s supposed new attack on the city. Climaco reportedly ordered the police and military to visit the City Inn Hotel in this city and disperse the group.

Climaco said MNLF chair Yusop Jikiri violated the protocol of the city in holding a forum without giving prior notice to the city government.

But Taddik said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which organized the forum has written to the office of the city mayor here and informed the mayor of the upcoming activities a few days before the forum.

Taddik, in a message to Mayor Climaco said: “We love you. Many of our Muslim MNLF members and leaders who are in this city have voted for you in the last elections. We have some police and military integrees who are here helping you in the maintenance of peace and development.”

The two-day seminar workshop was organized by the UNDP in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and the European Union (EU).

MNLF Central Committee deputy secretary general for military affairs Abuamri Taddik said the seminar workshop centered its discussion on peace and development in Muslim dominated areas in Mindanao.

The UNDP, EU, and OPAPP wanted to know what the needs are in the area so they can create a socio-economic program and extend the necessary help, Taddik explained.

Among the topics that were discussed during the two day seminar workshop were the Bangsamoro right to self-discrimination and imperative for social, political and economic development, MNLF development program framework, including responsive Bangsamoro education (politically, culturally and economically), human capital development to drive economic growth and access to public health services, development of local entrepreneur-cottage industries with access to market and agriculture and non-agriculture based production including the processing and marketing of goods.

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