Duterte asks Misuari to form negotiating panel

By EJ Roque

March 21, 2019, 3:33 pm

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has asked Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to form a negotiating panel to address his group's concerns.

Duterte made this response to Misuari when they met in Malacañang on Tuesday and the MNLF leader told the President that he will go to war if the proposed shift to a federal system will not materialize.

Sabi ni Misuari kagabi (Misuari said last night), ‘If you do not give it to me, let me be very honest: I will go to war.’ Sabi ko (I replied), I understand that Nur. So ganito na lang gawin natin (So here's what we will do). Let’s form a panel because we have to inform the people. We cannot negotiate secretly here," Duterte said in his speech during the campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Marikina City on Wednesday night.

Sabi ko para (I said, so that) day to day they will be briefed kung ano outcome, how gusto mo ma-apply yung federal system sa gusto mo, gaya ba ng BOL o different type. (What the outcome, how you want to apply the federal system the way you want. Would it be like the Bangsamoro Organic Law or a different type),” he added.

The President said Misuari expressed his desire for federalism which was promised to his group since the administration of former President Corazon Aquino.

"Iyan ang inaasahan ng mga Moro para magkaroon naman sila, magkaroon, mabawi nila ‘yung mga lupa na inagaw ng mga pari, mga Español pati Amerikano (That is what Moros expect for them to regain the lands grabbed by the priests, Spaniards, Americans)," he said.

Duterte met with Misuari after the MILF leader returned from an overseas trip.

“Misuari kagabi galing siya abroad, (Misuari returned from abroad last night) I allowed him to go out kasi may kaso siya. Sabi ko (because he is facing charges. I told him) when you come back come here, we’ll talk,” Duterte said.

The President said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. and Palace Spokesman Salvador Panelo were present when he met with Misuari.

Duterte earlier said he “admired” Misuari's patience in peace negotiations.

Meanwhile, Panelo said Misuari "was very happy" with the President's response to form a negotiating panel.  (PNA)