Palace to intervene in MNLF-MILF feud

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Malacañang on Tuesday said the Philippine government will intervene between rebel groups Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to settle their differences so that peace efforts can proceed.

Speaking to reporters, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) will be in-charge of mediating between the two Moro groups before they sit together in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“It will have to be settled, even before the process takes place. So, they’ll have to sit down together and be able to express their opinions and doubts and difficulties. But it will have to be resolved before they actually sit down,” Abella said during a news conference.

“The OPAPP will be in charge of settling those matters… It’s part of the process of peace. You know, resolving difficulties and conflicts [is essential to the peace process]” he added.


The Palace official issued the statement after MNLF leader Nur Misuari said he will not participate in peace negotiations alongside a rival group, the MILF.

“These are all traitors, that’s why I cannot accept them. I hope the government will dissociate from them, otherwise I can’t forgive them. Why will they associate with traitors? The last thing that will happen I’ll honor them by allowing them to sign it [peace agreement]. They must be put in prison, they are pure and simple criminals,” Misuari told CNN Philippines.

His statement came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte signed an Executive Order (EO) reconstituting the BTC, whose 21 members shall comprise of 11 representatives from the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government, including three from the MNLF side.

Abella said the BTC is expected to submit its draft of the rules and regulations to create a Bangsamoro government to Congress by the middle of 2017.

Misuari met Duterte in Malacañang last Thursday after Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza flew him in from Jolo, Sulu after he received the suspension of an arrest warrant against on November 2.

In his speech, the MNLF leader claimed that Malaysia is to blame for the kidnappings in Sipadan, Malaysia in 2000.

This came, however, just days before Duterte leaves for Kuala Lumpur, where he will have bilateral talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Palace official maintained that the government is not adopting Misuari’s statements as Malacanang’s own.

“That was Nur Misuari’s opinion…The President himself did not voice that concern,” he said.

The MNLF has sought to create an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

In 1976, it forged the Tripoli deal with the government, which eventually paved the way for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1996.

Some MNLF members, however, had differences with their leaders and broke away with the group to form the MILF.

In 2014, the Aquino administration signed a peace agreement with the MILF.

The deal, however, did not sit well with Misuari, who believes that it violated previous agreements with the MNLF.

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