Duterte reiterates plan to reach out to Misuari
BULUAN, Maguindanao — President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his desire to reach out to Moro leaders who campaigned against the new law that would give their former colleagues full expanded autonomy in Mindanao.
At the distribution of certificates of land ownership for farmers here, President Rodrigo Duterte specifically mentioned Nur Misuari, the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who publicly opposed the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“If I can get Nur…If we will have a talk and I can win him, we will be peaceful,” Duterte said.
On January 21, the people ratified BOL, creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the final step in the 2014 peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The law aims to give the impoverished south an expanded autonomous area, offering self-determination to the nation’s four million Muslims by empowering them to elect their own parliament.
The law would also give the people in parts of the southern Philippines that have Islamic majority control over many local government functions, including taxation and education, and would allow Muslim Filipinos to incorporate Sharia law into their justice system.
Misuari became the governor of a Muslim autonomous region after signing a peace deal with the government in 1996 but failed to lift the area out of poverty despite millions of dollars poured into the region.
In September 2013, he led a 21-day siege and went into hiding. After Duterte came to power in 2016, the court suspended his arrest warrant on rebellion charges on orders from the President, whom he considers a personal friend. However, an arrest warrant on graft charges was filed in September 2017.
“Our problem again will be the ISIS. The ISIS has a violent ideology. It’s not Muslim. Their interpretation with Qua-ran was corrupt. They know nothing but to kill. They will teach us how to kill? What will happen to our children?” Duterte asked.
“It’s [the] ideology of Arabs, not [the] ideology of Maguindanao. Our only commonality is Islam. But Islam does not say we should kill each other,” he added.
Last month, two bombs exploded at the Church in Jolo, killing 23 and wounded more than one hundred churchgoers. It was the most brazen in recent years and came at a time when thousands of troops had been deployed to Jolo to crush the militants.
Two days after the blast, unidentified men lobbed a grenade inside the mosque, killing two Muslim religious leaders and wounding four other people.
Shortly after the incident in Jolo, SITE Intelligence, a US-based group that monitors online communications among Muslim militant groups, reported that the IS East Asia Province had issued a statement claiming responsibility. /ee
Duterte tells Nur Misuari: ‘We’re old, let’s talk’
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