Duterte Eyes Separate Talks with Nur Misuari

Manila, Philippines, 11 Safar 1438/10 November 2016  (MINA) – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing holding separate talks with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari, who has been critical of the peace talks between the government and rival group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Duterte said he would hold a meeting with stakeholders of the peace process after his two-day visit to Malaysia.

“I will talk to everybody,” Philstar quoted Duterte as saying before leaving for Thailand and Malaysia at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

“Almost immediately after my visit and my talk to Malaysia, I will convene a meeting, then we will make the introductory presentation of the proposed revised Bangsamoro transition document,” he added.

“Misuari is now in Abu Dhabi, I think. Or he is supposed to leave for Abu Dhabi. I don’t know but there seems to be (an implied) agreement that we’ll have separate talks with Misuari.”

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Founded in 1972 by Misuari, the MNLF originally fought for the creation of an independent Moro state in Mindanao. The group and the Philippine government signed the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 which led to the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) two decades later.

The MILF, meanwhile, was formed by MNLF’s second-in-command Salamat Hashim following an internal dispute over the 1976 deal.

In 2013, the Aquino administration and the MILF inked a framework agreement to create a Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the ARMM. The government and the MILF signed a comprehensive peace agreement a year later.

The agreements between the government and the MILF were opposed by Misuari, who claimed that they violated the Tripoli deal and the 1996 peace covenant. In a recent interview with CNN Philippines, Misuari called the MILF “traitors” and “criminals” and urged the Duterte administration to dissociate from them.

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The MNLF founder, implicated in the 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by a faction of the MNLF, vowed to support Duterte’s efforts to promote peace in Mindanao.



Executive Order on expanded BTC

On Monday, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 8, which expanded the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the body tasked to draft the enabling law that would create a Bangsamoro government.

The commission now has representatives from the MNLF, indigenous peoples, Mindanao sultanates, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, local governments and sectoral groups.

Misuari, however, will not be part of the BTC as the government intends to address his issues through another approach.

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Despite Misuari’s tirades against the MILF, Duterte remains optimistic about the prospects of the peace process.

“I really do not know when he (Misuari) will be back to talk to us. But, at least, in principle, we have agreed that we stop the war everywhere involving (MNLF) and the government,” the president said.

“It seems that we will be lucky. After two years, maybe we can have a partial, well, entire cessation of armed violence in the country,” he added.

The government is also in peace talks with communist rebels represented by the National Democratic Front. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)