MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday night, August 11, that he does not want Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari to be pursued and detained anymore due to his “fragile condition.”
“Misuari is getting old and I’m not saying he’s sick,” he explained during a press conference. “But with his fragile condition, he does not need to be pursued. I don’t want him detained.”
Duterte said that 77-year-old Misuari, who has a warrant of arrest in relation to the Zamboanga siege in 2013, knows that “he’s supposed to stay there.”
Misuari has been charged with inciting rebellion and crimes against humanity for his key role in the Zamboanga siege that claimed nearly 200 casualties and displaced thousands of families.
It will be a problem, he added, if something bad happens to the former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) while under government custody.
“If something happens to Misuari while he’s under our control or detained by us, you can never have talks again,” Duterte said. “Kapag may nangyari sa kanya, malaking problema yan (If something happens to him, it will be a big problem).”
Aside from Misuari, Duterte also does not want anything bad to happen to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.
“You lose the chance, even if it is a small one, to have peace talks with anybody there so delikado iyan (it’s dangerous),” he said. “And even Sison, ayoko na may mangyari (I don’t want something to happen).”
Duterte made the comment on Sison a week after they exchanged tirades sparked by the government's unreciprocated unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels. (READ: Duterte calls Joma Sison 'arrogant')
Leadership of ‘good number of Filipinos’
Misuari and Sison, according to Duterte, lead “a good number of Filipinos” pursuing an ideology.
“They might not really be a big number but still, they command respect for what they believe in,” he said. “They’re fighting because they want a better chance for the people. That’s what they believe.”
The problem Duterte sees is that they want to achieve their goals through armed struggle, which has already claimed a lot of lives from both sides throughout the years.
“When the guy is driven by a purified principle to do better or to give a better set of things than what they are experiencing now, somehow it invites respect,” he said. “But they want to take over through force of arms and that is the problem.”
According to Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, the roadmap aims to provide peace and development by addressing the issue on the Bangsamoro and resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government are set to “relaunch” formal meetings as they enter the implementation phase of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on August 13 to 14.
Meanwhile, the peace negotiations between the government and communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) are scheduled on August 20 to 27. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.