MANILA, Philippines – For Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, it’s either federalism or war.
President Rodrigo Duterte said this on Wednesday, March 20, a day after meeting with Misuari in Malacañang.
Also present in the meeting were Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
“Misuari said – and I am making it public, and you can ask persons who were there – he said, ‘We are friends, but you know you have to have something like this.’ You want a federal setup because that was promised by Cory [Aquino]. She promised a federal [form of government], that’s what Moros have been waiting for,” Duterte said in mix Filipino and English during PDP-Laban’s campaign rally in Marikina City.
“Misuari said last night, ‘If you do not give it to me, let me be very honest, I will go to war.’ I said, ‘I understand, so let us just do this, let’s form a panel, because we have to inform the people, we do not negotiate secretly here,’” he said.
Duterte said the panel would discuss what federal system Misuari wants, “whether similar with the Bangsamoro Organic Law or a different type.”
Duterte earlier said he wants to work on a new “agreement” with Misuari once the BOL is ratified. The BOL – the culmination of peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Aquino and Duterte administrations – was later approved in two plebiscites held in January and February this year.
MNLF was once the dominant Muslim rebel group in Mindanao before it was overtaken by the MILF, formed by ex-MNLF members.
In 2013, Misuari led a deadly siege of Zamboanga City to protest peace talks then between the MILF and the administration of president Benigno Aquino III.
For the siege, which killed over 200 people, Misuari was charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity.
Duterte had said he urged the court to allow Misuari to travel abroad to attend conferences.
MNLF holds influence mainly in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi areas. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org