Waging war vs. MILF, MNLF not an option: Duterte

By Lilian Mellejor

January 27, 2018, 5:55 pm

DAVAO CITY -- President Rodrigo Duterte Saturday hinted at continued talks with the Moro revolutionary groups as still the best option until the government perfects an arrangement on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without violating the Constitution.

“Let me make myself very clear. I do not want violence, I do not want war. I only want to talk,” the President said in a press conference at Davao International Airport following his arrival from a three-day visit to India.

"This is my take. Either we figure out new regions if I can do it administratively without violating any provision in the Constitution. If it’s only a matter of laws, then we can ask Congress for the corresponding change,” the President told reporters when asked what comes first federalism or BBL.

The President wanted to sort out everything given the general sentiments of Congress that there are provisions in BBL that are unconstitutional.

The BBL seeks the creation of a new government to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“So let’s start to sort it out. Let us show the Moro that we are trying our best. That those Constitutional provisions that will be violated can be corrected if there is a Federal setup coming,” he said.

Duterte was concerned of renewed trouble in Mindanao once Moro groups do not get what they want. He remembered MILF Chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim telling him “we are tired of waiting for so long”.

On the other hand, the President has said that the promise for a federal system of government was not his but it was a concession by former President Corazon Aquino to MNLF Chair Nur Misuari when the former president went to Jolo.

But now, he said, he was getting the beating.

“Yun ngayon ang sinisingil na sa panahon ko, na-timing eh (and now they are demanding it during my time). And they are threatening to go to war,” he said.

“Ako naman (For me) I’m pleading to the Moro people to give the government a chance to work out something. That’s the last thing that I would want to happen to my country. Go again and wage war against their own people," he stressed.

The President pointed out going to war is not his style “because you are not criminals”.

This is a matter of principle to everybody, he said. “So let’s avoid violence. If the thing that we are working on now do not fit, your paradigm of what you want, we can always talk and change everything,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s an event that is imposed on. There’s always a time to do it and I think that they are decided to do something if they are not given the things that they want,” he said.

In December last year, the Senate’s sub-committee on the BBL held its first hearing on the proposed BBL with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chairs the sub-committee, assured to schedule more hearings and invite more resource persons. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)