Palace: No Duterte deal with Maute group

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Malacañang has ruled out anew negotiations with terrorists as it countered reports that President Rodrigo Duterte was about to make a deal with the Islamic State-inspired Maute group but later aborted the plan.

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“Up to this point, we have no verified reports that there were efforts to initiate such actions as Agakhan Sharief claims,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said during a press conference on Thursday.

Agakhan Sharief, a prominent Muslim leader, was quoted by Reuters as saying that after the attack on Marawi City, he was approached by a senior Duterte aide to use his connections with the Maute group’s leaders to start back-channel talks.

However, the process was halted when Duterte, in a speech on May 31, declared he “will not talk to terrorists.”

But the Palace official denied the claims as he reiterated the Duterte government’s firm stance not to negotiate with terrorists.

“Let me be clear that the position of the Palace and the President is not to negotiate with terrorists including these local terrorist groups—which had intended to establish a state within the Philippine state, and to remove allegiance to the government of the Philippines and the Chief Executive of the City of Marawi and its residents,” Abella said.

He said that the actions of the Maute group constituted rebellion “because they submit to a foreign leader and hold to a dangerous ideology that is inimical to the well-being of all Filipinos including Muslim Filipinos.”

Abella also said that most Muslim Filipinos disagree with the terrorists’ “extreme interpretation and application of the Muslim belief system.”

“Having said that, the President is serious about redressing the social injustice committed against Muslim Mindanao. He is committed to having the Bangsamoro basic law passed. The President intends this to be a vision of a federal form of government in the Philippines,” he added.

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