Philippine leader wants to talk with 2 rebel groups, China

Cheryl Sanders
August 14, 2016

The 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has waged a bloody insurgency in the mainly Muslim southern Philippines since the 1970s but an accord signed in 2014 had raised hopes of a lasting peace.

Negotiators for the two sides said the weekend talks in Malaysia would discuss details of Duterte's peace road map.

"We'd like to see it also as test bed, a model for what could be a federal state later on when we establish the federal set-up in the Philippines", Dureza said.

Dureza said both parties have agreed that the negotiations phase is over and now it is time to implement what they have agreed to do.

Duterte has yet to talk with the MNLF, but has repeatedly expressed willingness to talk peace with the group even as the government prepares to meet with the leaders of its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"We are willing to enhance provisions of the BBL to accommodate other concerns from different groups", he said.

The agreement would have been sealed by the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was supposed to have paved the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

For the government troops, President Duterte reiterated his promised to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). "He also emphasized how it is important to make this implementing stage primarily an all-Filipino process consistent with the principles of self-determination and autonomy", he added.

Misuari, who in 1996 led the MNLF in a peace deal with the government, remains in hiding after the 2013 siege in Zamboanga City that left 200 dead and more than 100,000 people displaced.

Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said they are looking forward to have a meeting with Misuari "but he is still under legal constraint because of the pending case against him" but there are "direct engagements with him through other channels".

Santiago is joined in the panel by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) executive team composed of Undersecretary Diosita Andor, Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, and Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion. He is also expected to meet with Misuari.

"I will meet Misuari for sure because pagkatapos ng panel-panel it goes up to us". Mr. Duterte told reporters.

The talks - the first formal meeting under Duterte's administration between the Philippine government and the MILF - come on the back of Duterte winning the presidency on a platform of correcting historical injustices committed against the Moros in Mindanao island.

"When I shall have met Misuari, I think there's a better chance", he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday night, August 11, that he does not want Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari to be pursued and detained anymore due to his "fragile condition".

"You can never have talks again..."

"Pag may nangyari diyan kay Misuari, Malaking problema 'yan".

Other reports by iNewsToday