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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video carries FALSE claims on Ninoy Aquino and MILF, MNLF history

There is no basis to the claim that Ninoy Aquino talked to Joma Sison and Nur Misuari to start insurgency movements in the Philippines.

Jul 12, 2022

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A Facebook (FB) page reuploaded a June 21 TikTok video with erroneous claims on historical events related to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the late former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

There is no basis to the claim that Ninoy Aquino talked to Joma Sison and Nur Misuari to start insurgency movements in the Philippines. It is not true that Malaysia formed the MILF in 1976 to replace the MNLF as a troublemaking arm in the country; neither is it correct that MNLF chairman Nur Misuari signed the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 after he found out that Malaysia had tricked him.

Ninoy Aquino was not behind insurgency movements

Jose Maria “Joma” Sison founded the CPP on Dec. 26, 1968. He wrote in 2010 that Aquino was not a formal ally of the CPP, but “both parties were informal and practical cooperators” from 1968 to 2010.

The MNLF, meanwhile, was founded in 1972 with Misuari as chairman, and was not connected to Aquino. It broke off from the Mindanao Independence Movement which advocated for the independence of Mindanao and Sulu in 1968 after the Jabidah Massacre.

The claim that Aquino was an “agent provocateur of Malaysia” is also unsubstantiated. 

Rumors of Aquino allegedly collaborating with Malaysia may have come from Hermes Dorado, former national territory division head of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He claimed in 2013 that Aquino promised to give Sabah to Malaysia in exchange for support to oust Marcos.

Dorado admitted that he heard the statement from an “indirect confirmation” by former general Rafael Ileto. VERA Files Fact Check could not verify this through documents or other accounts.

The signing of the Tripoli Agreement 

The MNLF and the Philippine government signed the Tripoli Agreement in Libya on Dec. 23, 1976. Contrary to the video’s claim, it was not because Misuari found out that Malaysia “betrayed” him. 

Through the efforts of a group of Muslim states and institutions formerly known as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), both the MNLF and the Philippine government were pressured into entering a peace treaty to establish an autonomous region for the Moros. In 1975, the OIC recognized the MNLF as a sole representative of the Moro separatist movement. 

The agreement came almost four years after the MNLF began its armed resistance against the Philippine government on Oct. 24, 1972. Numerous clashes between the MNLF and the Philippine government resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, according to the University of Central Arkansas’ website. 

Malaysia’ support for MILF needs context

The MILF was formed in December 1977 after a co-founder of MNLF, Hashim Salamat broke away from the MNLF because of political and ideological disagreements with Misuari whom he criticized for not focusing on religious goals, according to a tracker maintained by Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). 

Officially called the MILF in 1984, Salamat and his followers traveled to Egypt and Pakistan to gain support as a “moderate alternative to the MNLF,” according to Stanford University’s CISAC.

Malaysia, according to accounts, provided support to the MILF in the 1980s and helped broker peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF since 2001.

The two-minute TikTok video was posted by FB page I am Shanwein (created on Jan.18, 2018) on July 7 and drew a total of over 62,100 interactions. 

The clip’s original version, which was uploaded on TikTok, garnered over 42,420 interactions and appeared five days after Intergovernmental Relations Body submitted a second report about progress in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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