Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte will no waver in his decision not to include the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the ongoing peace talks.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said members of the ASG will never be granted amnesty under the Duterte Administration.
“Regarding the desire of Mr. Misuari to ask for amnesty for Abu Sayyaf, there will be no negotiations with the group,” Abella said in a news conference.
He was referring to the proposal of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari to include the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the peace talks.
Misauri facilitated the release of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad who was held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf for months.
The President earlier said that he had been waiting to have a dialogue with Misuari but the latter allegedly asked him to also negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf.
“If that’s the case, it’s better not to talk. I will not [talk to Abu Sayyaf]. For the life of me, I will not,” Duterte said.
The President said there will be no successful dialogue with the MNLF if Misuari insists that the bandits be included in the peace talks.
“Mindanao would be a problem, then so be it. Then, wait for the next President if he wants. I don’t like that. I do not want because as a matter of principle, I will not accept such style,” Duterte said.
“So it would be another strategy. I really do not know. Either Nur abandons the Abu Sayyaf or he will take care of the Abu Sayyaf,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE