‘Nur the only known leader who has the influence and the structure’
President Duterte is set to meet with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari in Davao soon to advance the peace process in Mindanao.
The President said Misuari, described as the only known leader who has the influence and the structure, would be given safe passage when he comes out of hiding for their meeting.
“Nur Misuari is scheduled to get out of his camp. Bigyan ko lang siya ng conduct pass. He will go to Davao, we will talk,” the President said during his remarks at the MassKara festival in Bacolod City.
Duterte first announced his intention to meet with Misuari, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in the first weeks in office but such meeting has not pushed through. Misuari has long been wanted by authorities for his alleged involvement in the deadly Zamboanga siege in 2013.
Last month, the President said he was willing to meet Misuari in any place, including Malaysia, the rebel leader’s preferred venue, to promote peace and prevent bloodshed in Mindanao.
Duterte said he told Misuari via phone that the police have been directed not to enforce a pending arrest warrant against him.
In refusing to arrest the MNLF leader, Duterte explained he wanted to avoid a situation wherein Misuari might die while under government custody. “He’s the only known leader who has the influence and the structure. Nobody else,” he said.
In 1996, the Ramos government forged a peace agreement with the MNLF led by Misuari, resulting in the establishment of the ARMM.
Decades later, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the breakaway group of the MNLF, inked a peace deal with the Aquino administration that would dismantle the ARMM and create a new political entity called Bangsamoro region.
Back in July, President Duterte gave the green light to a comprehensive “roadmap to peace” covering various rebel groups that include proposing an alternative measure to replace the botched Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Under the new roadmap, the Duterte government plans to introduce a “more inclusive” peace bill in lieu of the BBL previously endorsed by President Aquino.
Aquino’s proposed BBL failed to get the nod of Congress due to questions of unconstitutional provisions and fallout following the January, 2015 Mamasapano debacle.