Deles: Look into Misuari’s ‘pattern of behavior’

The government is still awaiting the response of Indonesia on whether it is willing to mediate

'LOOK INSIDE.' Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles maintains the government did not abandon the 1996 peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front. AFP file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Reiterating that the government did not revoke the 1996 peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles turned the tables on MNLF founder Nur Misuari over his changing sentiments on the peace process.  

While she stressed she did not want to “openly speculate” on Misuari’s plans, Deles singled out Misuari’s “pattern of behavior.”

“What will make Misuari happy? It appears that  all our work with the different factions and all our work with the different communities does not seem to make Misuari happy. Therefore, what does he want? I will not, it is not my role to present what is his plan and what is his vision,” Deles said in a press conference in Malacañang on Wednesday, September 11.

The government, the MNLF, and Indonesia, as the chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s peace committee for Mindanao, are conducting a tripartite review of the unimplemented provisions of the 1996 peace pact. 

Misuari is against the ongoing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,  the breakaway group of the MNLF. Instead, he wants to reopen talks with the MNLF over issues on the expansion of territory, provisional government and wealth-sharing. The government has maintained that such issues are not covered by the 1996 agreement but they can be addressed by the yet-to-be crafted law that will estaablish the Bangsamoro political entity. 

READ: The MNLF, MILF and 2 peace agreements

Reports earlier said Misuari declared the independence of the so-called Bangsamoro Republik out of frustration, jolted further by “misinformation” that the government was terminating the 1996 peace pact. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process later explained it just wanted to conclude the tripartite review itself to allow the full implementation of the 1996 peace pact.


Deles recalled that only last Friday, September 6,  the Misuari-led MNLF faction, which has been identified as behind the Zamboanga attacks, appeared willing to conduct another round of tripartite implementation review after their meeting with Indonesian counterparts.

“From the meeting with Indonesia last Friday and action that was taken on Monday… there is a big disconnect,” Deles said. “It was a violation of the spirit of what we discussed with Indonesia last week that there will be a meeting and laying out of positions and facts.” 

This “pattern of behavior” from Misuari had also been observed in previous meetings. 

In a 2011 meeting in Solo, Indonesia, the government and the MNLF came up with a joint statement for a partnership on reforming governance in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. But 2 to 3 weeks later, Deles said Misuari called the government “treachearous” before the OIC in Djibouti and complained that nothing has been done about the agreement. 

In a 2012 meeting in Bandung, Indonesia, Deles said the parties waited for 6 hours for Misuari, but when he did he turned down the proposal that had earlier been approved by his representatives. 

Despite this, the scheduled tripartite review on September 16 to 17 in Indonesia is pushing through. On whether or not the MNLF will attend the talks, Deles said: “My understanding is they have requested for travel papers for Misuari and two others.” 

Other MNLF leaders have also expressed their intention to continue the tripartite reivew. 

“It is important to note that [those behind the Zamboanga attack] are not the entire MNLF and other MNLF leaders have spoken that continued engagement with the government is important,” Deles said. 

Third-party intervention

The Misuari-led MNLF faction has been calling for the intervention of a third party in the ongoing Zamboanga siege. 

Deles said the government is still awaiting the response of Indonesia on whether it is willing to mediate.

“We understand that the Indonesian Embassy here is seeking guidance from Jakarta,” Deles said. 

But Deles clarified that the “ceasefire mechanism” the MNLF wants to invoke does not exist. 

“It was never envisioned that there would be a return to violence so there is no ceasefire mechanism in place,” Deles said. 

Indonesia has also made its position on independence campaigns very clear, Deles said.   “I would like to say as I’ve done earlier with our briefing with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa that Indonesia opposes any threat to the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” Deles added.

The conflict in Zamboanga has displaced 14,300 residents, and left at least 6 dead and 14 wounded. 

MNLF spokesperson Emmanuel Fontanilla has repeatedly criticized the government for deploying military troops to the area.

But Deles said it’s important to contain the situation. “The government is very conscious of civilians that will be affected,” Deles said. – 

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