The Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF, is a Muslim Group that operates in Mindanao. The MNLF was involved in war with the Philippine Government from the 1970’s until 1996. The whole idea of the MNLF, however, got started in 1968 when 299 Muslim Filipino military trainees were killed by the Philippine Government of Ferdinand Marcos. When these trainees were killed, other Muslims who were in the military decided that seccession from the government was the only answer. They wanted to form a Moro homeland. Moro is the name that means Muslim people here in the Philippines.
At that time, Nur Misuari was a Professor at the University of the Philippines, and he rose to become the leader of this group, which became known by the name “Moro National Liberation Front” or MNLF. The group ensued to start an insurgency in the Southern Philippines (island of Mindanao), an action which accounted for up to 200,000 lost lives over the decades. At it’s strongest, the MNLF had a force of around 40,000 soldiers fighting for their homeland on Mindanao.
In 1976, the Philippine Government decided that it would be better to put an end to the fighting, and with the help of the Libyan Government, a peace treaty was negotiated with the MNLF. However, the Philippine Government never lived up to the deal, and thus the MNLF resumed fighting under Chairman Misuari.
After another 20 years of struggle, the MNLF entered a second peace agreement with the Philippine Government, under President Fidel Ramos. Under the agreement, which has been in place since 1996, the MNLF has a region which it governs, called the “Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao” or ARMM. Unfortunately, until now the ARMM is mired in deep poverty, the poorest part of the Philippines, and the people have still not realized the dreams that they dreamed of.
In the past 5 or 6 years, Nur Misuari has been put in jail for sedition (since released, and now free and living in Mindanao again), and has been ousted from his Chairmanship of the MNLF. The MNLF no longer exists as a fighting force, now it is more of a political force, and controls many aspects of the ARMM Government.
In terms of how the MNLF affects foreigners, in regards to travel in Mindanao or other parts of the Philippines, that is really not a problem. The MNLF is mostly a peaceful organiztion now, aside from an occaisional break away faction that will cause a problem from time to time, but even this is quite rare these days. As a matter of fact, when there is any kind of lawless action in Mindanao, the MNLF is often called upon to assist in settling the matter, and is usually helpful in such matters.
Most MNLF fighters have long since put their weapons aside and sought out legitimate work to feed their families and such. Many former MNLF fighters are farmers, fishermen and such these days.
In my opinion, you really don’t need to worry about the MNLF if you plan to travel around Mindanao.
For more information about the MNLF, visit the MNLF Official Website.