Talks with Misuari, MNLF on Track, Says Duterte

President Duterte embraces MNLF leader Nur Misuari in Malacañang in November 2016 – Presidential Photo.


Manila, Philippines, 27 Jumadil Akhir 1438/26 March 2017 (MINA) – President Duterte will again talk with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to discuss the administration’s peace efforts and the plan to set up a federal form of government, Philstar reported.

Speaking during the Kaamulan Festival in Malaybalay, Bukidnon Saturday, Duterte said he is meeting with MNLF founder Nur Misuari to seek his recommendations on setting up a federal form of government.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said a meeting between the President and Misuari took place recently.

“The President had a closed door meeting with chairman Nur Misuari and other MNLF leaders. The Palace will provide an update once information is available,” Abella said Saturday.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism in a bid to address concerns in Mindanao.

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Last Friday, the President brought up the matter anew before businessmen belonging to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc.

He also talked about the shift of government during the convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines last Thursday.

In a speech, Duterte said he wants a federal form of government, which will provide strong powers for the president, citing as an example the government of France.

“It provides a strong president. Hindi pwede dito na (We cannot do) without a president kasi (because) we are an archipelago. So many islands, you must have a strong president. Few powers – power to declare war, power to whatever. In emergency, he rules,” Duterte said.

“But you can have a parliament like France, but you have to have a president,” he said.

I have a blood which mixes with the Mindanaoans

Duterte was quick to douse concerns that the shift to federalism would mean perpetual power for him. He is ready to step down once the structure is set up, he said.

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“And I would tell you now: If they can hammer it out within the fourth or third year, para wala na lang gulo (so there will be no confusion), I will step down as president of this Republic and allow the federal structure to bloom. Tanggapin na lang natin ‘yan. Pag hindi, magulo talaga (Let’s accept it, otherwise there will be chaos),” he said.

“Ang sabi ko, kung hindi nila ibigay (I said if they can’t do it), there is a possibility that there will be a breakage in this country… but I’m taking advantage of my term because I have a blood which mixes with the Mindanaoans,” Duterte added.

The President has repeatedly said that Muslims would not be able to attain peace without a federal form of government.

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“I am telling you now that if you cannot give the Moro people at least a semblance of a federal type of government and allow them to control the areas they now occupy, we will have a continued war for all time,” he said.

Duterte has emphasized that his term as president “begins and ends with public interest.”

Speaking before lawyers on Thursday night, Duterte said he is “pained” by the conflict in Mindanao, which was why he included it in his campaign platform. He said nobody could better understand the situation than a president like him who came from the region.

Duterte said he has continuously talked with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is subject of the comprehensive Bangsamoro agreement signed in 2014. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)