PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte ordered the immediate creation of a coordinating committee with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to advance peace efforts in Mindanao and the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Duterte relayed his intent to MNLF founder Nur Misuari during their “productive” meeting in Davao City on August 23, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“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 to convene the same by the second week of September in Davao City for agenda setting and for the start of discussions,” Panelo said.
“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,” he added.
Panelo said the GPH-MNLF Coordinating Committee “can 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 President has repeatedly said he hoped to reach an agreement with Misuari, whom he previously said warned him of war should government fail to pursue a shift to federalism.
Misuari is a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the entity superseded by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the result of a peace pact between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a splinter group of the MNLF.
The MNLF, under the leadership of Misuari, has been questioning the supposed inequitable distribution of positions at the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, an interim governing body of the BARMM.
The Duterte government had raised the possibility that Duterte may consider creating a new regional government for the MNLF.
Panelo said that Misuari, during the meeting with Duterte, had wanted the involvement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation the consultations to determine the remaining compliance of the national government in the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.
“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,” he said.
“We can do less as a people, and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will walk the extra mile to bring harmony to the country and the nation,” the Palace official added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE