‘I can give BBL to MILF, Sulu to Misuari’
(The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – In his quest for lasting peace and development in Mindanao, President Duterte said he is willing to have the wish of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) granted through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Furthermore, Duterte is willing to give up Sulu for the other major Muslim group – the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari.

The Chief Executive revealed his stand to editors and reporters of The STAR at Malacañang yesterday.

“Ibigay ko na lang ang BBL sa Bangsamoro,” he said, if it’s the only way to prevent another outbreak of violence in Mindanao.

Amid talks of federalism, Duterte said he has not abandoned the issue of the BBL and the pursuit of lasting peace in Mindanao.

He said the government cannot afford to go into war again with the MILF just because of the failure of previous Congress to pass the BBL, which was covered by the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro under the previous Aquino administration.

Duterte stressed his administration would vigorously pursue peace with the MILF.

MILF chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad, who is also head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, earlier warned that his forces are ready to go to war if the BBL is junked.

“Pag di mo binigay kay Murad yan, magkakagulo. Remember, Murad said he will go to war if they are not able to get BBL,” he added. “It is not good to humiliate the Moros, because they lose face. So minamasahe namin.  We can’t go to war,” Duterte said.

“At ibibigay ko, si Misuari.  I’m willing to part with Sulu and the rest of island, they can have it,” he said.

The Chief Executive however ruled out talking peace with the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

Late Tuesday, Duterte also warned the extremist ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will penetrate the Philippines if peace negotiations with Muslim rebels fail.

Speaking to soldiers at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center, Duterte said he is determined to forge a settlement with Muslim and communist rebels as waging war is costly.

“In days to come, the rampaging ideology of ISIS will reach us, whether we like it or not. If we fail to reach an agreement, ISIS will enter here. I’m praying to God that we talk,” Duterte said.

Officials said that while ISIS has not entered the Philippines yet, it has inspired acts of terror particularly by the Abu Sayyaf.

The Chief Executive said fighting rebellions has been draining the government of much needed funds.

“It eats a lot into the economy of the country so I need to reach an agreement with communists. I have to deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front,” he said.

“No need to go to war at this hour. We’ll save our energy for a better fight,” he added.

Last Monday, Duterte said he would spend 10 days in Mindanao to discuss a peace roadmap and to talk to leaders of the MILF and the MNLF. The peace roadmap, however, would not cover the Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged loyalty to ISIS.

The President also vowed to continue the peace talks with communist rebels despite their failure to reciprocate the ceasefire he declared last July 25.

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