Presidential Communications Office
Presidential News Desk
PRESS CONFERENCE OF
PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT CHAIRMAN NUR MISUARI
[Malacañan Palace | 3 November 2016]
PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Good afternoon. Kindly find your seats to make you comfortable. I have a great news for you.
It is with great happiness that I announce to the nation that Chairman Nur Misuari, our brother who heads the MNLF, has finally decided to just accept my invitation for him to talk to us.
He has obliged and we are very grateful. Secretary Dureza just did the legwork and all. He was able to pave the way for Chairman Nur to come here, I said, upon my invitation.
There is the pending warrant which is lifted now upon my orders so that we can talk and I would like to assure Nur, brother Nur, that there was never any intention to deprive you of your liberty.
As far as we can remember, when I was vice mayor, you were touring Mindanao and I accepted you with open arms and I said that maybe someday we can finally talk about peace and little did I know, brother Nur, by the grace of Allah, I became the President of the Republic and in the twilight of our years, we would be able to talk about the problem of our country, the revolution that you have led all these years and finally, understanding on a common ground with government.
And that I assure you, I said, as you have narrated, we will come up with the modality and then of course, how to place us in our proper homeland, our Mindanao, and that we will talk about the Bangsamoro Authority.
We are ready for that, brother Nur. And as a matter of fact, I said, I was elected for six years. But I told Congress if they are able to craft a territorial structure for the federal government and go ahead with the elections and provide the presidency for another form of government, I assure you that upon its completion, if it could be done earlier, three, two years, you have my word, I will resign as President and pave a way for a territorial government which would have provided also maybe a strong president but equally strong national parliamentary, subject to the rules of federalism which will provide a greater leeway, elbow room for governance for our people.
I am for it. I know that we have talked. Many times you passed by Davao City that we would just agreed to a federal set-up, give everybody his due, do justice to the Moro people committed many years, many centuries ago.
You know brother Nur, this is not really to pull my own chair. But when I was talking to a lot of the Americans and I said, and I reminded of the several massacres, not only in Jolo but in Samar, the belfry, the bell that was from the church there was taken out by the Americans and because one colonel died there, an American. Every male, ten years and above, it’s cut off also.
So these are the things that I said contributed to a lot of injustice and you have to pardon the next generation for we did not know, at least the Filipinos now in Mindanao.
So we would like to ask that we work together with our Moro brothers and create a country that is really, that is just and that is good and that would be for the next generations to come.
It’s… I would like you to just say a few words and we can maybe ask—maybe they can ask questions later. But, this is the podium being used by the President, you know that, because you also was once upon a time a Cabinet member.
May I ask you to just give a short talk using the podium of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. May I? Chairman, brother Nur?
MNLF CHAIRMAN NUR MISUARI: [Muslim greetings of peace] I begin, I began my statement with this universal greetings of peace of the Islamic world because peace is a most, most vital humanitarian value to us. I came here just to see the President, not thinking that I would be airing this press conference because I came here only in answer to the invitation of the President. The man whom I respect and trust.
For I believe, as I said during the campaign, that this one single man who can provide solution to the problem of peace and order in our homeland. I’m not so sure about Visayas and Luzon but our homeland of Mindanao because that’s the place where I was born, that’s the place where I intend to die.
Just a while ago, I reminisced on my life. I said, I told Secretary Dureza when we passed by and about to enter the main gate, I said it was in this Freedom Park where I spent nine days, nine nights of my life. I was then teaching in the University of the Philippines. But I had to abandon my teaching profession to the extent that I had to resign because I was not happy with the reaction of the late president Ram—the late president Marcos.
In the aftermath of the killings of more than 200 of our people in Corregidor islands, innocent youth of our homeland, I led a series of demonstrations. I organized one in Congress. But when they called me to say my piece, I said no. I’m not happy with their reaction of the Congressmen. Why did they not honor us by sending somebody here just to talk to us.
So I gathered only nine of our leaders and asked them to join me and I told them, now I will march to Malacañang Palace because it was our agreement in the mosque, in Taguig Mosque, including the father of my brother here, Abukair Alonto.
We swore to the Almighty God that we’ll ask at least simple justice and we’ll not stop until we get simple justice from the government. What kind of simple justice? We demanded in our streamers, we said, ‘Mr. President, please return our brothers dead or alive. Please Mr. President.’ We were blaring at the Malacañang Palace. We had a powerful microphone. We occupied for nine days, nine nights. I slept in that Freedom Park for nine days, nine nights. I left only when I went to the university to change my dress, to take a bath and like that.
At the end of the nine days, nine nights when instead of replying courteously to our demand, the late president instead issued astatement before the media and it became headline issue. It said, Mr. President Marcos has promoted one rank higher the executioners of the Muslim in Corregidor.
So I said when the media came they asked me, how long will you stay Mr…Professor Nur Misuari will you stay here? I said, this is the end. I will end my stay here tonight. There, I gathered our leaders and we swore to the Almighty God to start our struggle for our complete freedom. I resigned from the university. I always told myself that the academic profession is the first love in my life. I was so in love with that profession.
But when we did not get even a simple justice from the government, so I decided to cut off myself from the university and now I am already over 48 years of my life. I told our dear brother, the President, I was already determined to stay put in the mountains were it not for his call, were it not for his invitation. It’s just that I cannot reject his invitation because I respect him too much.
And now I came here to thank him, first also for restoring my freedom, if only partially. When released from the residence of my wife, Mr. Kjartan Sekkingstad after we got him from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf, we were very, very lucky the Abu Sayyaf sent only — according to Sekkingstad – only 60 warriors.
And upon my instruction, I asked my people to envelop their car right away and I sent one battalion of my forces. So they had no choice but to give us to us.
Then when he left the residence of my wife, you know what he said? “I am so happy to be alive.”
Now I want to tell you, paraphrasing that statement of my friend Kjartan, now I am so happy to be free again, owing to the initiative of our President.
My first impulse was, I said, I told Secretary Dureza, I said I would rather let the President speak for us.
How often did groups of media people try to convince me to welcome them in my camp, except for Al Jazeera which was commissioned by the CNN– Another two, ABS-CBN and I don’t know, another international media organization. I welcomed them there.
Because… I am sorry to say this. I’m not happy with the performance of some media people. They distort my statement. And some of them are insisting– Before they used to insist, MNLF is a spent force.
When the September 9 Zamboanga war came, President PNoy was asked, Mr. President, with this war, can you still say that? No, no, no, no. Misuari is strong, MNLF is still alive.
And now they are saying, mouthing the German propagandist, repeating lies and lies and lies. That this group of traitors called executive committee of 15, they said, this is the biggest group, sometimes MILF.
No, sir. Not even one barangay of my people in, can they match in Jolo.
They only have handful of people. Even right now, you can ask Hadji Murad himself, how many thousands of his forces, how many thousand of his arms have been brought back to us. You can ask my brother here, one of my commanders from Lanao, ay from Cotabato.
He will tell you most of the titles are already with me. And even the BIFF have told me, brother Nur if you go to war, count on us, BIFF.
Ask somebody to dispute this. And now I came here, foremost in my mind is how can we help our President finish his job through to the end of his six-year term. Because I know for a fact, he will not abandon his pledge to the people.
He said, I’ll give you peace, peace in Mindanao. Is that so Mr. President? So I support him for that. When he said, brother Nur why don’t you move against the Abu Sayyaf? So I started moving.
First, I sent 1,700 of my forces, my inner security, to the eastern part. And we cordoned off the position of the Abu Sayyaf—Oh yes, Abu Sayyaf. They said, no, no, we give you, we return back. So the 10, but some people, enterprising people, when they came, they offered them some money and claiming the media there, we were the ones. No sir, no.
With due respect to the Armed Forces, even the two that they got, they were only spillover from us. One of them swam during dark pitch night to the sea, because they were guided, he was guided by flittering light of fishermen.
Then when you reached them, where do you want to go? We want to go to the MNLF. So he was brought there, from there he was sent over to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
They told me, there are other two. So I asked them to scour the whole mangrove areas, et cetera. We could not find.
Later on, he showed up in the highway. And the Armed Forces came. But it’s the start of the work I did.
That’s the thing I want… I want people to be truthful about things. If you want us to be fair with you, you want us to deal with you, please be fair with us, just tell the truth, simple truth.
And secondly, about this campaign against drugs, one of my commanders, I was telling Secretary Dureza while we were flying from Jolo to Manila, I told him, one of my commanders has written me a report saying, [Hadji?] addressing me.
Everytime I finish my prayers in the morning, morning prayers, I go to the balcony of my humble house, overlooking the highway, in Jolo. Everytime I see people, young people, in the prime of their life, walking like insane people. I say what’s the cause? Drugs.
They are destroying our children, our youths. Who will succeed us after this, when our citizens are already destroyed by these drugs? To us, I’ve always been saying that drug is a restless creeping threat to humanity.
International organization is spreading billions and billions and produce no result at all. This is biggest, one of the biggest source of crimes to humanity, these drugs.
And apart from that, our source is saying that since Malaysia is the one who is involved in this kidnapping for ransom, probably, one day, I will drag their leaders into that International Criminal Court. I have all the evidences in my hands. My people are everywhere and besides, they cannot escape because they are hiring my own people.
Even Sipadan, they hired my cadre officers, because they opt for the millions and then they have the ball to ask one of my nephews here, “we want to see the chairman.” They suggested Jeddah or Saudi Arabia, Mecca then they said we’ll meet at his camp. Then recently they said, let us meet, advance our meeting in Indonesia. He is one of my members of my delegation now. I said: “Stop it, I don’t have the heart to see these people.”
After they make this conspiracy to destroy the honor and integrity of my people, I am so concerned, Mr. President, because one time I had a press conference, it was a big room in Malaysia, but before, at that time, I did not know yet who was behind the Sipadan.
Sipadan has just broken loose in the word media. They asked me, they asked question, before even I can, I could open my mouth, one German lady stood up and pointed her finger at my face. “You know Governor, your people are the worst people in the world.” I said: “Sit down, I will explain to you”.
Because she said: “why did they kidnap people for ransom?” Now, I told them. I told, I said “listen, I can understand what is prompting in your heart, in your soul. I can understand that because you come.”
And so with due respect from Western civilization and according to Western civilization in my studies, there is such thing like collective punishment. When somebody commits mistake, commits crime, what will he do? They already do, they can even destroy the whole community, just one second.
But in our case, we are Muslims, the crime of the father cannot be imputed to the son. Let alone, the crime of the son can’t be imputed, no. So we stop. And the people started howling at me, mostly white people. She was very irresponsible.
So I want to stop here. Just allow me to reiterate my sense of gratitude to the President and I promise that should he need our cooperation in his campaign for peace, you can count on us, Mr. President. [Muslim greetings]