MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, June 16, expressed hope that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari can join discussions on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
"I hope Chairman Misuari can be convinced to join the talks so that if there are corrections or maybe additions or provisions that would not sit well with the Tausug and the rest of the southern part of Mindanao, then maybe we can realize altogether the friction of the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF], [MNLF], and the rest of Mindanao," he said before before Moro leaders in Davao City to mark Eid'l Fitr.
However, Duterte warned that if anyone would "kind of adopt an intransigent behavior, 'pag patigasan (if there is stubborn behavior), it will result to war." He then requested to not have that kind of conflict during his term.
"'Pag hindi naman tayo nagka-aregluhan, eh ako nasa gitna, mahirapan ako, sino'ng barilin ko? Sundalo ng republika, o sundalo ng [MI] pati [MN] and the rest of the revolutionary groups?" Duterte asked.
(If we wouldn't be able to come up with an agreement, I would be torn. Who would I shoot? A soldier of the republic or a soldier of the MILF, MNLF, and the rest of the revolutionary groups?)
In 2013, Misuari led the siege on Zamboanga City that lasted for 3 weeks. It was carried out by a faction of the MNLF loyal to Misuari, as the government engaged in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a breakaway faction of the MNLF.
The fate of the Mindanao peace process hinges on the final version of the BBL, which will be decided by a bicameral conference committee in July. (READ: Final version of BBL holds fate of peace process in Mindanao)
The proposed BBL would abolish the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with a new Bangsamoro region.
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.