Duterte: MILF not inclined to intervene in Marawi

PAMPANGA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said that based on his talks with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders, the group is not willing to talk to terrorists in Marawi City in order to end the siege there.

"I don't think the MILF is inclined to do that. They also hate what's happening," said Duterte on Wednesday, June 28, during a chance interview at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

The President said he was able to have a "frank discussion" with MILF leaders during the Eid'l Fitr celebration he hosted in Malacañang on Tuesday, June 27.

It was then that they talked about the Marawi crisis, which had erupted on May 23 and prompted the declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao.

"I was with Murad last night. We had an Eid'l Fitr [celebration]... So the Moro leaders were there and we had a very frank discussion of the things there [in Marawi]," said Duterte, referring to MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Apparently, the option for MILF intervention was crossed out because Duterte said that, at this point, the only way the crisis will end is if the last terrorist is flushed out of Marawi.

"It will not end until the last terrorist is taken out," said Duterte.

During a meeting with Muslim leaders on June 25, Maute Group leader Abdullah Maute supposedly said his group is willing to withdraw from Marawi if the MILF would intervene for an end to the crisis.

The Maute Group also reportedly agreed to swap one of their hostages, Catholic priest Teresito Soganub, for the Maute brothers' parents – Cayamora and Farhana –who were arrested in early June. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)

MILF peace implementing panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal told Rappler on Tuesday that the MILF is "cautious" about the proposal to intervene.

"The issue in Marawi, especially in relation to the Maute Group, is so sensitive. Any imbalance could mean something that is very hard to handle. We are very cautious," he said.

Duterte can only hope for the Marawi crisis to end. Asked if he thinks it could be over by his second State of the Nation Address on July 24, the President said: "I hope so. If it will end tomorrow, then I'd be the most happiest man in this nation." – Rappler.com 

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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