Duterte: honor peace agreements

M’LANG, North Cotabato (MindaNews /04 August) – The next President of the Philippines will have to deal with the peace processes with the Moro and the National Democratic Front (NDF) but more than just talking peace, he or she should understand the root causes of the conflicts and honor the peace agreements, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said.

Duterte, introduced by former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Pinol as “the next President of the Republic of the Philippines” gave this suggestion before thousands of residents who gathered at the town plaza for the 64th foundation anniversary of this town Monday noon.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the 64th founding anniversary of M'lang in North Cotabato on Monday, August 3. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the 64th founding anniversary of M’lang in North Cotabato on Monday, August 3. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

Duterte has repeatedly been saying he does not see himself as a candidate for the Presidency in 2016 even as he ranked third and fourth in the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey on possible Presidential candidates in June, and even as he has been going around the country since December 2014 for a “listening tour” on federalism.

He is the lone Mindanawon in the top five of the surveys on “Presidentiables.”

In his 54-minute speech, he talked about various problems confronting the country as well as proposed solutions, discussed the history of Mindanao, particularly in reference to the Moro, and how in a unitary system of government, Manila always decides for the rest of the country.

“What I do not like is that the Manila national government makes fatal decisions na mapasubo tang tanan ngari sa Pilipinas” (that affects all of us in the country) citing the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano Tragedy that left 66 persons dead — 44 members of the Philippine National Police’ Special Action Force (SAF), 17 from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and five civilians.

“Admitado ang tanan nga naa diprensya ta sa mga igsoon tang mga Muslim, pero sa adlaw galamano ta, gasulti ta ng peace agreement pag gab-i.. sundoton mo sa lubot” (We admit there are differences with our brother Muslims, but we shake hands in the morning, we talk peace agreement, but in the evening we poke their butt), Duterte said. The crowd laughed.

“Naturalmenteng galit ang MILF. Galit rin tayo. (Naturally, the MILF is angry. And so are we). Why do we have to talk about peace in daytime and yet in the evening you create a trouble there, resulting in the death of 44 Filipinos and maybe 18 as equally Filipinos as our Muslim brothers?” Duterte asked.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the 64th founding anniversary of M'lang in North Cotabato on Monday, August 3. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the 64th founding anniversary of M’lang in North Cotabato on Monday, August 3. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

“Di mi kasabot.. mag areglo ta.. pero ayaw pagbuhat ug butang nga maipit mi ngari sa Mindanao, for after all, magkamatay mi ngari, bomba didto, bomba ngari, wala man sila’y pakialam. Didto sila mag-organize police mag-imbestiga unsay nahitabo. Baw linte! Tanang problema naton, sila man ang gasulbad, way man ta” (We can’t understand. We forge agreements. But do not do things that will adversely affect us in Mindanao, for after all, we could die here from bombs there and bombs here, they don’t care up there. They’ll just organize the police to investigate. Baw linte!” Duterte said, the last part, an expression in Hiligaynon, drawing laughter, applause and cheers from the predominantly Hiligaynon crowd.

He lashed out at peace negotiators, saying they are all from Manila. “Puro Manila, puro walang alam. Hindi nila maintidnihan ang kultura ng Muslim dito sa Mindanao. Way pud sila kaintindi unsa atong gibati” (All of them from Manila, all of them know nothing. They can’t understand the culture of the Muslims here in Mindanao. They also do not understand how we feel).

The government peace panel negotiating with the MILF, however, is not all Manila-based. Two of them are from Mindanao –former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and Bai Yasmin Busra-Lao, Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

Duterte said Mindanawons want peace in their communities, noting that “manganak ta, kanang imong anak manganak…. (we will give birth here, your children will give birth here” and for the next 100 or 200 years, will remain here in Mlang, in North Cotabato, in Davao.. “with our brother and sister Muslims.”

“Dili ta pwede magsigeg gyera nga way katapusan) “We cannot be at war forever,” he said.

Duterte, who has been mayor of Davao City from 1988 (he was congressman of the first district from 1998 to 2001, and vice mayor from 2010 to 2013), went to Marawi and Cotabato cities explaining his support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) except for the provisions on the regional police and armed forces.

Duterte said half of his family members are Muslims. He said his grandmother was a Maranao, his grandfather a Chinese national, his mother has Maranao blood, and some of his grandchildren are Muslims.

He also said he has no problems with MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim or Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari or MILF Vice chair Ghazali Jaafar “because I know that they would honor any agreement that they signed.”

He told a press conference in the afternoon that he has been going around promoting federalism because when copies of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro were signed and distributed all throughout Mindanao, he already saw the problem “given the bigotry” of those outside Mindanao.

Duterte said he can talk to Nur (Misuari) whom he considers “my friend” and “if everything fails… want to talk to Murad also and Jaafar, and ask them would you agree to federalism?”

On the NDF, Duterte, who has repeatedly attended and received soldiers or police personnel held and later released by the New Peoples’ Army in various parts of Mindanao, said he can “talk to them and relate to them.”

Duterte also said he and the NPA can “talk on the same wavelength because anak kog pobre eh” (I am a child of poor parents). His mother was a public school teacher while his father, a government employee, later became governor of the undivided Davao.

“You cannot expect that of a son of a millionaire.. he would never, he can never fathom, hindi nya maabot yung ano yung sentimento ng mga NPA (he can never understand the sentiments of the NPA) because he’d never know how to talk their language,” Duterte said.

Duterte, a city prosecutor, was appointed OIC vice mayor from 1986 to 1988 in the post-EDSA Cory Aquino administration.

In the dying days of the Marcos dictatorship, until the Marcoses were ousted in Feberuary 1986, Davao City was dubbed “Killing Fields” and “laboratory of the urban guerrilla warfare of the CPP-NPA-NDF” (Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples’ Army, National Democratic Front).

When democracy was restored, however, a police-organized Alsa Masa (Masses Arise) unleashed a wave of anti-communist hysteria in the city, aided by radio commentator Jun Pala.

At the time of the hysteria, Duterte repeatedly said “The Alsa Masa is bound to falter because any mass movement founded on myth is bound to falter.”

“Government,” he said, “must address the roots of the conflict.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)