Philippine’s Muslim south to build its own security force

September 1st, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Sep 1 (Xinhua) The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which rules the Muslim majority Mindanao region in the southern Philippines, is raising its own security force to “protect peace” in the autonomous region, the group’s chief said Monday.Nur Misuari said the 120,000-strong National Security Command would be responsible for maintaining law and order, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on its website.

The MNLF, which fought for self-rule for Mindanao for more than three decades from the early 1970s, was given autonomy in 1996 by the Philippine government.

“The security force would maintain peace and order in the south so that people can walk in the middle of the night without any fear,” the report quoted Misuari as saying.

The MNLF chief said the object of his government was to create a security situation that would encourage investors and tourists to Mindanao.

“We want to invite tourists, investors from all over the world. We want our people to catch up with Luzon and Visayas (northern and central parts of the Philippine archipelago), so that they can march into the future with the rest of the world community,” Misuari said.

“By the first quarter of 2009, the MNLF armed forces shall reach 300,000 strong. If that is not enough, I will increase it to half a million,” he said.

Asked if the creation of such a force was permitted by the Philippine government, Misuari said it was the group’s “unilateral decision”.

Misuari said he only wanted to “promote peace in Mindanao” by raising the security force.

Misuari’s announcement of the regional security force came in the wake of a series of clashes between government troops and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MILF broke off from the MNLF in 1981 and continued fighting against the government till a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2003.

Talks between the MILF and the government went on and off but insurgency-related violence has escalated over the past weeks.

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