COTABATO CITY: Members of the Moro National Liberation Front Central Committee (MNLF-CC) have unanimously voted for former city mayor of Cotabato, Datu Muslimin Sema, for the second time as chairman of the front, replacing former Sulu governor and representative Yusop Jikiri, who died at the age of 66, officials confirmed.

220px Muslimin Sema 2016 - Sema new MNLF chairman

Other MNLF officials elected by the Central Committee during the meeting held at Maseer Hotel on November 11 are Datu Ali Montaha DH Babao, chairman of the MNLF Bangsamoro People’s National Congress; Tong Jikiri, vice chairman for military affairs, replacing MP Punduma Sani; Minister Romeo Sema, retained as vice chairman for political affairs; Hatmil Hassan, vice chairman for foreign affairs; PM Punduma Sani, vice chairman for internal affairs; Uttoh Salem Cutan, deputy secretary general for Political Affairs; and Jubair Macaumbos, deputy chief, National Intelligence bureau.

According to Judge Casan Ali Limbona Sr., a member of MNLF, Datu Muslimin Sema, who was the chairman of a faction of the MNLF since 2008, stepped down as chairman to adhere to the collective leadership of the Central Committee and “to reiterate to the whole that no one man shall forever rule the MNLF and the Bangsamoro.”

During the 2013 hostage crisis in Zamboanga City, an MNLF faction, led by Muslim Sema, condemned the violence and refused to participate. Because of the attack, the MNLF Central Committee allegedly ousted Misuari in absentia on Feb. 10, 2014, a move supported by the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Moro National Liberation Front official said.

The MNLF is an Islamic separatist organization, based in the Southern Philippines that seeks autonomy for Filipino Muslims, called Moros. The MNLF was established in 1972, and it led the Moro Separatist Movement until the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the MNLF and the Philippine Government. Since 1996, the MNLF has been surpassed in strength and influence by its rival group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which began its own peace talks with the Philippine government.

Nowadays, the MNLF consists of many factions, some of which support current negotiations between the Philippine government until, finally, Republic Act 11054 or the “Bangsamoro Organic Law” was implemented, creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, an MNLF official said.

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