President to spend 10 days in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 August) – The country’s 16th President and first Mindanawon to lead the nation will spend 10 days in Mindanao when he returns this week from Malacanang

“I’ll be spending about 10 days after tomorrow. I’m gonna fix the, firm (up) the structure sa Mindanao issue,” President Rodrigo Duterte said at the mass oath-taking of undersecretaries Monday afternoon in Malacanang, aired live on national television.

Since he took his oath as President on June 30, Duterte has been coming home for the weekends in this city where he served as  mayor for 22 years.

“We will be going for the framework regarding the two factions,” he said, referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom government signed separate peace agreements.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte answers queries from members of the media after administering the oath of office for the newly-appointed undersecretaries of different government agencies at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on August 1, 2016. ACE MORANDANTE/PPD
President Rodrigo R. Duterte answers queries from members of the media after administering the oath of office for the newly-appointed undersecretaries of different government agencies at the Rizal Hall of the Malacanan Palace on August 1, 2016. ACE MORANDANTE/PPD

Duterte was apparently referring to the convergence of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the MNLF, for the drafting of a more inclusive Bangsamoro law.

Under the Duterte peace roadmap, the 15-member all-Moro Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be reconstituted to make the seven government nominees in the Commission “more inclusive.”

The BTC will be tasked to draft a “more inclusive” enabling law that will be filed with Congress” in lieu of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that was not passed by the previous Congress, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.

At the press conference that followed the oath-taking, Duterte he will stay for ten days here because “I have to fix the … Mindanao issue. Tingnan ko ‘yung framework. I have to travel to Cotabato to talk again to (the MILF) to hurry up. And I travel to Jolo to talk to Nur (MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari).”

In the latter part of his press conference, he said he is going to Mindanao “maybe day after tomorrow and start to look into the firming up of the framework and if I have the time, I’ll just fly to Jolo (to meet Misuari) and to Murad again to talk and I’ll just give them the firm commitments.”

Murad is MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim who is based in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, near Cotabato City.

Dureza met with Murad in Camp Darapanan last July 21 and both agreed that the formal resumption of the peace process will be during the meeting of GPH-MILF Implementing Team in Kuala Lumpur in early August.

The joint implementing team, composed of five representatives from the GPH and five from the MILF, is expected to discuss the peace roadmap in accordance with the CAB and in convergence with the MNLF’s FPA, and other sectors for what would be a broader, more inclusive Bangsamoro Peace roadmap, Dureza said.

As of August 1, no date has been set yet for the Kuala Lumpur meeting.

Dureza’s visit to the MILF camp came three days after Duterte approved the peace roadmap which provides that work on the new proposed Bangsamoro enabling law “will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal set-up, the latter expected to come later under the planned timeline.”

At the press conference in Malacanang last Monday, Misuari’s status as a fugitive was apparently mentioned by a reporter. Duterte replied “I’m talking to Sison, he’s a fugitive.” Sison is Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines and chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

He said Misuari and Sison “are waging rebellions…. ideology-driven” and that their “redeeming factor” is  “you rebel because you want a better set-up or a better life for the people.”

“But all of these guys will have my… I’ll consider an amnesty kung magkausap tayo at (if we talk and) we can agree to a peaceful co-existence. I will accommodate them,” Duterte said.

He said he asked the military and the police “you might want to consider just for a day makalabas lang sila” (that they be given a pass).

He plans to tell Misuari, “Nur, once the talk starts, I’ll give everybody a safe conduct pass.”

Duterte said he told the military and police: “you will just have to navigate the way as it (has) been done, in a process of negotiation everywhere. When you talk to the rebels, you have to give them a safe conduct pass or at least a sense of security to face you and talk about what’s bugging the country.”

But Duterte’s peace adviser, Dureza told Malacanang reporters on July 19, a day after the peace roadmap was approved, that the Duterte administration will officially deal with Misuari only when the effects of the warrants of arrest he is facing are suspended.

Dureza, however, emphasized that their communication lines with Misuari are open, and that in fact, Duterte phoned his friend Misuari the night before.

Warrants of arrest had been issued against Misuari and 59 others for rebellion and violation of  Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 104 persons dead, 192 injured and 110,000 of its 807,000 population displaced. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)