PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the creation of a coordinating committee between the Philippine government and Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to get the “cooperation” of the Muslim rebel group in achieving peace in Mindanao.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte and Misuari had a “productive meeting” in Davao City on Friday night, their fourth known meeting this year.
“The President relayed to Mr. Misuari his desire to immediately form a Coordinating Committee between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MNLF, and instructed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) to convene the same by the second week of September in Davao City for agenda setting and for the start of discussions,” Panelo said in a statement.
For Misuari’s part, Panelo said the MNLF founding chair “wished that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) be involved in the consultations, similar to the previous tripartite talks with GPH, MNLF and the OIC, to determine the remaining compliance of the GPH with the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF.”
The MNLF forged a peace pact with the government in 1996, consequently establishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which Misuari headed as governor.
Duterte earlier revealed there were “rumblings” in the MNLF following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“The GPH-MNLF Coordinating Committee will serve as a venue to seek for the cooperation of the MNLF to achieve immediate peace in Sulu by, among others, helping in combatting the Abu Sayyaf Group and convincing MNLF relatives to return to the folds of the law,” Panelo said.
The GPH-MNLF Coordinating Committee, he said, could “expect the full support of the Office of the President as we move towards our common goal of resolving the conflict that have caused deaths, suffering, and dislocation among the Muslims and Christians alike.”
The Palace official said that “in resolving the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, every undertaking that may lead to a lasting peace and prosperity to that region must be tried and tested until its fruition.”
“We can do no less as a people, and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will walk the extra mile to bring harmony to the country and the nation,” he added.
Misuari is facing rebellion charges and has been in hiding but Duterte has ordered the police not to arrest the rebel leader.