By Al Jacinto | The Manila Times
ZAMBOANGA CITY: Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari has endorsed presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Misuari made the announcement himself late Sunday in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia during a gathering of MNLF members and other supporters. He also endorsed actor Robinhood Ferdinand "Robin" Padilla, who is running for senator, the MNLF said.
The former Libyan firebrand, who signed a peace deal with the Philippine government in September 1996, flew to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah and Taraweeh at the Haramain, Holy Mosque in Makkah.
"Chairman Nur Misuari announced his official endorsement of presidential candidate Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. and vice presidential candidate Mayor Inday Sara Duterte in a gathering with MNLF members and guests. He also endorsed the candidacy of aspiring senator, Robin Padilla," the MNLF said in a brief statement.
Misuari's endorsement of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio coincided on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Just last month, the MNLF denied that Misuari endorsed presidential candidate Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, who met with the former rebel leader at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City before his pilgrimage.
The MNLF said Pacquiao merely called on Misuari as courtesy to the country's Special Envoy to the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation. A photo of Misuari and Pacquiao also went viral on social media with the latter's camp saying the MNLF has endorsed the candidacy of the lawmaker.
"The picture circulating online of Chairman Nur Misuari with presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquaio is not an official endorsement for his candidacy," the MNLF said, adding any endorsement of any kind from some members of the MNLF for any particular candidate is personal in nature and does not reflect the endorsement of Misuari or the former rebel group.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Misuari two years ago as special envoy and helped in the government's peace process. Misuari previously asked Duterte to include the OIC in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway group, saying the Islamic body has 57 member states which played a vital role in the peace talks between the government and MNLF in the past.
In March 2014, the MILF under Murad Ebrahim, also signed a peace agreement with the government. Ebrahim was also appointed as governor of the MILF-led autonomous region by the President in support of the peace accord.
Ebrahim and his political party, United Bangsamoro Justice Party, and the MILF have endorsed the presidential candidacy of Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo in the May election. But four of five provincial governors of the Muslim region led by Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan are supporting Marcos and his running mate.