He sent an estimated 200 gunmen to Zamboanga in an effort to derail a planned peace deal with the region’s remaining major Muslim rebel group, the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which split from the MNLF in 1978.
Under the envisaged peace pact, a new autonomous region largely controlled by the MILF would replace the MNLF-brokered one.
“They fear that they might be outside the mosquito net,” Dureza said of the MNLF leadership, using a Filipino expression for total exclusion.
However, Misuari may have overplayed his hand, according to Casiple, citing his inability to draw much support beyond the Tausug heartlands of Jolo and Basilan Island.
“His problem now is that you have a president who is in no mood to negotiate,” Casiple said, citing Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s rejection of a ceasefire offer by Misuari and plans to charge his men with rebellion.
“I think this is the endgame for him,” Casiple added.