MANILA, Philippines - After the Bangsamoro Organic Law is approved by the people in a plebiscite, President Rodrigo Duterte wants to work on a new "agreement," this time with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari.
Referring to the aged rebel as his "beloved friend," Duterte said he and Misuari agreed to talk about a deal after the Bangsamoro plebiscite.
"I hope to talk to him in the coming days as we agreed. Sabi ko tapusin muna natin ito, hintayin natin yung atin then again we can resume after the Bangsamoro [plebiscite]," said Duterte on Friday, January 18 in Cotabato City. (Let's just get over with this, then we resume our talks.)
The first plebiscite for the BOL is set to take place in 3 days, or on Monday, January 21.
"I would call out to him, extend my hand of friendship and peace and hope we can strike an agrement that will also promote the interest of the MNLF and the rest of the Moro of Mindnao," said Duterte.
MNLF was once the dominant Muslim rebel group in Mindanao before it was overtaken by the MILF, formed by former MNLF members.
In 2013, Misuari led a deadly siege of Zamboanga City to protest peace talks then between the MILF and the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
For the siege, which killed over 200 people, Misuari was charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity.
MNLF holds influence mainly in the Zamboanga, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi areas.
Back in March 2018, Duterte had once floated the idea of dividing the Bangsamoro government so that these islands could be governed separately. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.