MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chief Nur Misuari, and other Muslim leaders will meet for dinner on Friday, March 24, in Davao City to discuss peace in Mindanao.
"I have a 7 o'clock dinner with [Nur] Misuari and the Moro leaders," said Duterte at the end of his hour-long speech at the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Biennial Convention on Friday.
He explained to former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that he could not extend his stay at the event because he wanted to be on time for the dinner.
"Ma'am Gloria, I have to fly home because mayroon akong (I have a) 7 o'clock. Taking the next available flight diyan sa (at the) airport," said Duterte.
He and Misuari talked on the phone on Thursday about a "preparatory document" about a proposed federal system for the benefit of Mindanao.
"I have been talking to Misuari, I already talked with him yesterday.... We are talking, we are crafting a sort of a preparatory document so that we can go into the process of proposing the federal structure," said the President.
Misuari has agreed to participate in the crafting of a law that will create a new Bangsamoro region. The government plans to create a panel that will engage Nur's MNLF faction, separate from the panel engaging the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Misuari owes his temporary freedom to Duterte, who ordered the suspension of arrest warrants so the MNLF leader can participate in peace talks with the government.
The 77-year-old Misuari was even allowed to enter Malacañang Palace last November after being fetched from Sulu by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.
Misuari is facing charges of rebellion and crimes against humanity over his role in the 2013 Zamboanga siege.
In September 2013, supporters of Misuari occupied coastal villages of Zamboanga City to protest the Aquino administration's peace talks with the MNLF's breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Over 200 people were killed and more than 24,000 families were displaced during the 3-week siege. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.