Duterte plans to hold talks with Nur Misuari

Published June 27, 2019, 6:12 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Genalyn Kabiling 

President Duterte is planning to hold another dialogue with former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari on a proposed territorial agreement in a bid to attain lasting peace in the south.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari exchange pleasantries during their meeting at the Malacañang Palace on February 25, 2019. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR. / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR. / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

After the government’s peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led to the creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, the President said he will work out the “same arrangement” with Misuari.

“Central Mindanao medyo nagkalma na [Central Mindanao has calmed down}. We were able to really convince those guys sila (MILF chair) Murad (Ebrahim). And I’m trying to set up a meeting with Nur Misuari. I would concede the same arrangement,” he said during the Presidential Security Group’s 122nd anniversary rites in Malacañang Park last Wednesday.

A day earlier, the President acknowledged that Misuari and other tribes in Mindanao deserved a stake in their territory.

“I have to deal with Nur Misuari and the Tausug and the Yakans and everything. They deserve the same thing,” he said.

“If I am still around, I will insist na talagang lahat o maski more than half of it will go to you kasi isang bayan lang naman tayo eh [I will insist that all or at least more than half of it will go to you because we are just one nation],” he said.

Last February, the President announced plans to craft a new deal with Misuari and his camp, citing that former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor was willing to talk instead of fight.

A month later, Duterte revealed that Misuari threatened to declare war if the government fails to pursue federalism. The two leaders eventually agreed to create their respective five-member panels to discuss the proposed federalism to avoid a potential conflict in the south.

Duterte however reminded Misuari that the push for federalism must go through the legislative process and must be in accordance with the Constitution.

Recently, the President made a pitch for changes in the Constitution if the lawmakers were no longer interested in pursuing federalism.

“If you do not want federalism, fine, but change the Constitution that would change this nation,” the President said during the oath-taking of newly elected government officials in Malacañang last Tuesday.

A peace accord was signed between the Ramos government and the MNLF in 1996. The deal allowed the creation of the ARMM with Misuari as its first governor.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the splinter group of MNLF, later forged a peace agreement with the Aquino administration that led to the establishment of the Bangsamoro region replacing the old ARMM.