MANILA, Philippines—While again denying the existence of a gun-manufacturing factory owned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, its chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal admitted the rebel group used to source its arms from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In an interview, Iqbal said the group purchased its weapons from three sources: gun smugglers, and personnel of the PNP and AFP.
“We bought our weapons from outside smugglers. Most of the local purchases we made came from people at the PNP and AFP who were selling their weapons,” he said.
However, Iqbal clarified the rebel group only did this during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
As to the alleged existence of the weapons factory, Iqbal said while they indeed used to have one, the group abandoned it after entering into a peace deal with the government.
“We don’t have any factory anymore because we will have to decommission anyway with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” he said.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano earlier accused the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of maintaining a secret weapons factory.
This weapons factory, he said, produced the high-powered firearms which were used in the killing of the 44 Special Action Force commandos.
The policemen died at the hands of the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its splinter group in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25 after they raided the hideout of wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
No Training Camp Either
Aside from the weapons factory, Iqbal also denied the group had a training camp to recruit new members in Sulu.
“We had camps in Sulu in the past, but just like the factory we abandoned it for the sake of the peace process. We no longer have any camping system,” he said.