Dureza says he recommended 'clearance' for ex-Marawi mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Sunday, August 20, said he recommended "clearance" for former Marawi City mayor Omar Solitario Ali so the latter could safely meet with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
"I recommended that a clearance from the Secretary of National Defense be issued to allow him to safely travel to meet the [defense chief] for the purpose, considering there were AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) checkpoints and his name was on the arrest list," Dureza said in a statement.
The meeting between Ali and Lorenzana, according to Dureza, aims to discuss how he could help the government resolve the ongoing conflict in Marawi City. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)
Ali is included in the arrest orders issued by the Department of National Defense (DND) last June 5. He is also one of the more than 150 government officials who are allegedly involved in the drug trade. (READ: The Duterte list: Judges, mayors, police officials linked to drugs)
President Rodrigo Duterte, on June 9, challenged Ali to disprove accusations he let terrorists into Marawi City.
Dureza, however, said Ali had been in touch with him about possible incidents involving the Maute brothers before the siege started, even volunteering to help.
"I also arranged a Davao meeting with the President where he offered help," Dureza explained. "After the meeting, I got him on a consultancy arrangement with Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)."
Ali even asked "if he could initiate talks with the Mautes" but Dureza declined his offer.
The peace adviser eventually revoked Ali's consultancy contract with the OPAPP when he was included in the DND's arrest orders. Dureza, however, continued communicating with Ali.
"At one time, when the President was in Cagayan de Oro monitoring Marawi, I arranged his phone call with the President," Dureza recalled. "The President told him over the phone that he instead should talk to me. So I continued handling him."
While he sent the clearance signed by Lorenzana, Dureza said he told Ali to directly contact the AFP on how to proceed with the meeting.
"I also later called Solitario that he should directly arrange the planned meeting with SND (Secretary of National Defense) as OPAPP does not get involved in AFP operational matters," he said. – Rappler.com