From Malaya (Jul 7): ‘Mautes tried talk with Duterte’
DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said Farhana Maute, mother of Maute leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute, tried to reach out to President Duterte in connection with the armed conflict in Marawi City.
In a press conference in Marawi City, Lorenzana said Duterte initially thought of talking with Farhana but the President later changed his mind because many soldiers and policemen had already died in the clashes between government forces and the Maute Group, which started on May 23.
“It’s a mother trying to talk to the President. Medyo nabagabag yung kalooban niya, kaya gusto niyang pagbigyan sana. (Duterte got a little troubled, that’s why he thought of talking to her). But the problem (in Marawi) is already deep, we already incurred a lot of casualties. So he said no more talks because I have lost so many soldiers and policemen,” said Lorenzana.
Lorenzana could not immediately say exactly when the feelers were relayed to the President. “I don’t know when and who was the emissary.”
Duterte said he does not negotiate with either criminals or terrorists like the Maute.
In a chance interview after his visit to Camp Bahian in Bukidnon, Duterte said he never initiated any talk with the Maute but said there might be some efforts started through the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
A Reuters reports on Wednesday said the President was preparing to make a deal with the Maute days after the start of the conflict but aborted the plan without explanation. It quoted Agakhan Sharief, a prominent Muslim leader, as saying he was approached by a senior Duterte aide to use his connections with the Maute leaders to start back-channel talks.
Lorenzana, asked what the President and Farhana were supposed to discuss, said: “I don’t know because it did not push through.”
“The President received feelers from the mother of the Mautes, Farhana. But many soldiers already died at that time. The President said he is not talking with her because many soldiers and policemen already died,” he said.
Farhana was arrested by government forces, along with 15 members of the Maute Group, in Cagayan de Oro City on June 9 in in Lanao del Sur. She is detained at a detention facility in Taguig City.
Lorenzana said talking to Farhana “does not mean negotiating” with the terrorists.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte rejected feelers for talks said there is no information about a supposed attempt to hold backchannel talks with the Maute group.
“We’d like to address the claims of Agakhan Sharief. Up to this point, we have no verified reports that there were efforts to initiate such actions as Agakhan Sharief claims. Let me be clear that the position of the Palace and the President is not to negotiate with terrorists, including these local terrorist groups,” he said.