By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has obtained the support of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari in the government’s battle against illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism in Mindanao.
Misuari also pledged to peacefully participate in efforts to bring lasting peace in conflict-torn Mindanao during a closed-door meeting with the President in Malacañang last Thursday.
“The latest in a series of meetings with the MNLF leader, the President continues to forge a strong alliance with Chairman Misuari for their cooperation in the administration’s war against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism in Mindanao,” a statement from the Presidential Communications Operations Office read.
The meeting between Duterte and Misuari came amid government efforts to crush a rebellion by Islamic State-linked militants in Marawi City. Martial law is in place in Mindanao until the end of the year to completely quell the threat of rebellion.
A short video of the President’s meeting with Misuari, his wife Tarhata, son Abdulkarim, and other MNLF officials was released by Malacañang on Friday. Duterte was seen embracing Misuari like a brother at the start of the meeting.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra later disclosed that the President’s meeting with Misuari also tackled the Mindanao peace process.
“He reiterated his commitment, the commitment of the MNLF to participate in very peaceful means with the process of self-determination of the Bangsamoro,” Guevarra said in a media interview in Pasay City.
Misuari’s commitment came following the President’s endorsement of the passage of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress. Duterte earlier said he would certify as urgent the BBL bill, saying he would not object to provisions consistent with the Constitution.
The draft BBL, prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, was submitted to the President last month. Copies of the draft bill were later forwarded to the Senate and House leaders.
“The matter pending is finding the congressional sponsorship for the draft bill. That’s a draft bill prepared by the BTC,” Guevarra said.
The last meeting of Duterte and Misuari was in March 27 at the presidential guest house in Davao City. The Palace said the meeting was “warm, cordial and positive” as the President and Misuari reaffirmed their resolve in securing just and lasting peace and development for Mindanao.
Misuari emerged from three years of hiding when he met with the President in Malacañang in November 2016 and promised to support the peace and development initiatives of Duterte in the troubled south.
The court earlier suspended an arrest warrant against Misuari in connection with the deadly Zamboanga siege in 2013.