Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would fly to Jolo in Sulu to talk to members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who claimed to have been snubbed when they tried to meet with him after the elections.
Duterte said he would also try to meet with fugitive MNLF founder Nur Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege.
“They (MNLF) said they were snubbed. I am very sorry but we did not really do that. Just to prove a point that I’m really interested…I’ll fly to Jolo and talk to Nur,” he said in a press conference here.
Duterte was reacting to the claim of MNLF officials that they were ignored by Duterte’s camp when they tried to visit him and to hear his plans for Mindanao.
“To be ignored is a great insult," MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said in a previous interview.
Duterte, however, insisted that there was no deliberate effort to snub the group.
“Believe me, I don’t do that,” the next Philippine leader said.
When asked for details about his planned meeting with Misuari, Duterte said: “I’ll find time. Misuari does not want to travel. He is facing charges. He is a fugitive.”
Misuari and about 60 of his followers are facing criminal charges over the Zamboanga crisis, which claimed the lives more than 200 people and damaged about P200 million worth of properties.
The 20-day crisis started after Misuari’s followers attempted to raise their flag at the Zamboanga City Hall and held hostage several civilians.
An arrest warrant was issued against Misuari and his followers in October 2013 but until now, government forces have yet to capture the MNLF leader.