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Friday, January 22, 2016

Wesmincom chief maintains Malik is dead, hopeful on Misuari arrest soon
 By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY, January 22 (PIA) – Contrary to a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) official’s claim that the man behind the bloody 2013 siege of Zamboanga, Ustadz Habier Malik is very much “alive and kicking” in Jolo town, Sulu province, the commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) here explicitly maintains that Malik was killed at the height of the siege.

“Sa amin, yun pa rin dati, sumakabilang buhay na siya,” (To us, we maintain that he died), pronounced Lt. Gen. Mayoraldo Dela Cruz during a media interview Wednesday (January 20). It can be recalled after the siege, authorities confirmed that Malik died from bullet wounds in a firefight with government troops.

Earlier last week, MNLF Deputy for Operations Faiser Serna claimed over a local radio news program that Malik is still alive, but was not seen during the MNLF’s latest meeting in Indanan, Sulu. Serna also claimed that MNLF leader Prof. Nur Misuari presided over the meeting himself.

Gen. Dela Cruz admitted that Misuari is very elusive. “Si Misuari, palipat-lipat yan ng lugar. Biglang nawawala,” (Misuari constantly moves from place to place, he disappears suddenly from where he was spotted) he said.

The general explained that the military is only in a support role when it comes to arresting high-profile personalities like the MNLF leader. “This is the job of the CIDG,” referring to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“Wala namang pumunta sa amin from CIDG. Pag pumunta sila, by all means, we will assist them in making the arrest,” (CIDG did not come to us) he said.

But Gen. Dela Cruz is very much hopeful on the arrest. “Darating din ang araw na maaresto din natin siya,” (time will come when we could finally arrest him).

Misuari and Malik both have a standing warrant of arrest for rebellion for their participation in the 2013 siege.  

Meanwhile, residents in the city have grown concerned on the presence of military armored vehicles. Gen. Dela Cruz clarified that there is no need for concern as the deployment is a standard procedure to ensure security.

“This is normal. We always want the people here to feel safe and secure,” he said. He said that the armored vehicles will also need to patrol the more isolated places here.

“It is very important to let the people know that Task Force Zamboanga is striving to do whatever it takes to protect the city,” he added. “We always have to be prepared.”