The MNLF-Moro National Liberation Front is battling with the Philippine Army in the city of Zamboanga – they have taken about 160 hostages and 30 people have been killed in the fighting – on the lower western side of the island. Although we are on the other side in the Davao region, the Mayor of Davao City and the State Department have issued warnings for tourists, foreign travelers and business people not to come to Mindanao at present.
Christians in particular are not under any special threats and our projects on the ground across the island are not currently in any danger. This is a long standing rebellion with occasional flare-ups, as the MLNF is demanding an independent Muslim state. Last year while there, if you read my previous report, I did have two armed officers with me for a portion of my trip and stay and felt completely safe. The real concern is that even if a peace is negotiated, some extremists within the group may not be satisfied and could activate cells in other parts of the island.
So, we are watching and praying for the right time to re-schedule the trip and continue our hands on portion of the work there.
I also have a concern with regards to the conference and for your security as well. Just this week, Zamboanga City – a City in Mindanao – is in a war against MNLF or the Moro National Liberation Front. Until now, the war is not yet over. The leader of the rebel group has not decided to retrieve its troops and continues to declare war. Their group is all over Mindanao. They want to own the island. They are even present in the Davao Region. Even in our place in Pantukan the presence of MNLF is observable. MNLF rebels that are residing in Davao region is just waiting for the go signal of their leader, NUR MISUARI, as to when they will attack this place. The Mayor of Davao City even plead to the foreign tourist as to not to come to Davao and Mindanao so that their lives would not be at risk. To this, I would like to propose that maybe we should cancel the conference for this year. I am just concerned with your security and safety. Any time now, the rebel group could declare an all out war if the peace negotiation would not go well. Maybe we can continue the conference some other time next year. If this is ok with you!