COTABATO CITY, Philippines — A Muslim rebel-turned-politician has warned of unabated lawlessness and terrorism to be unleashed by militant armed groups in Mindanao unless the problem of poverty was addressed immediately.
* There are many poor Christians in the Phillipines, did they ever resort to terrorism if their problem was not addressed immediatiely?
In a two-hour dialogue here with 14 visiting European envoys on Tuesday, new Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Muslimin Sema said terrorist and other criminal activities were inevitable when “our people continue to remain poor and starving.”
Sema, who is also the mayor of Cotabato City, took over leadership of the MNLF from founder Nur Misuari. The MNLF, the main Muslim insurgency, signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.
Sema told the envoys headed by French Ambassador Gerard Chesnel that the government had failed to implement some provisions of the 1996 peace agreement.
He warned that “other militant groups may grow weary and desperate [because] of the government’s inaction and may resort to violence and ways of destabilization.”
Chesnel told Sema and other Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officials that they came here to assess the security situation and the socioeconomic condition of the Muslims.