Misuari pledges support for Duterte peace plan
Misuari pledges support for Duterte peace plan
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 3, 2016 - 8:36pm

MANILA, Philippines -- Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman and erstwhile fugitive Nur Misuari vowed Thursday to cooperate with President Duterte’s peace efforts as he assailed the media for supposedly distorting his statements.

Misuari, who met with Duterte hours after the Pasig City Regional Trial Court suspended his arrest warrant, said he is confident that the president would fulfill his promise to bring lasting peace to the country.

“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,” Misuari said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“And now I came here, foremost in my mind is how we can 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 added.

Misuari, who was charged with rebellion in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege, was allowed by Duterte to use the presidential podium.

“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?” Duterte said.

Duterte and Misuari then embraced each other before the rebel leader approached the podium.

“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,” Duterte said.
 
“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,” he added.  
 
The president sat with the audience while Misuari was talking about his experiences during the Marcos regime and his efforts to free some kidnap victims of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

'Misuari is strong'

More than 200 people died during the 20-day Zamboanga crisis, which erupted after Misuari’s followers tried to raise their flag at the city hall and held several civilians hostage.

The impact of the crisis was not mentioned during the speeches of Duterte and Misuari. The aging MNLF leader, however, mentioned the event to stress that his group is not yet a spent force.

“When the September 9 Zamboanga war came, President PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) was asked, Mr. President, with this war, can you still say that? No, no, no, no. Misuari is strong, MNLF is still alive,” Misuari said.  

Misuari also assailed what he described as “lies” peddled by some groups about the MNLF.

“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 (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” Misuari said.

“No, sir. Not even in one barangay of my people in, can they match in Jolo,” he added.

“They only have handful of people. Even right now, you can ask (MILF chairman) Hadji Murad himself, how many thousands of his forces, how many thousand of his arms have been brought back to us.”

Misuari said even the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the breakaway group of the MILF, is sympathetic with him.

“Even the BIFF have told me, Brother Nur if you go to war, count on us,” he said.

Misuari also scored the media for supposedly making it appear that the MNLF is already a spent force

“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,” he said.

“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.” 

Sipadan hostage crisis

Misuari also alleged that some Malaysian leaders are behind the Sipadan kidnapping incident in April 2000. A total of 21 people, mostly European tourists, were kidnapped in a dive resort in Sipadan, Malaysia and were held by the Abu Sayyaf for more than a year in Mindanao.

“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 evidence in my hands. My people are everywhere and besides, they cannot escape because they are hiring my own people,” Misuari said.

The MNLF founder lamented that his group was blamed for the kidnapping incident. Misuari was the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao when the abduction happened.

“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',” Misuari said.

“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',” he added.

“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.”

Misuari also narrated his role in the release of some Abu Sayyaf hostages including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

Misuari went to Manila via a private jet from Jolo. He was accompanied by presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza, who called him a “key player of the peace road map of the president.”

“It only means that there’s a bigger chance, opportunity for the Bangsamoro peace agreement to really push through because it’s the same agreement that failed during the last administration,” presidential communications secretary Martin Andanar said in an interview.

War on drugs

Misuari also agreed with Duterte with regard to the harmful effects of illegal drugs on the next generation.

“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?” the MNLF leader said.

“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.”

Misuari said international groups are spending billions to address the problem but to no avail.

“This is one of the biggest source of crimes to humanity,” he said.

MNLF NUR MISUARI PEACE PROCESS
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