DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected proposals by Moro National Liberation Front’s Nur Misuari to grant general amnesty to Abu Sayyaf militants and include the notorious terrorist group in the peace talks with the government.
Misuari, chieftain of the former rebel group, earlier asked the government to suspend all military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf militants, whose group is tied to the Islamic State, to allow peaceful negotiations for the safe release of kidnapped Malaysian and Indonesian tugboat crew members being held in the southern Philippines.
This proposal was also rejected by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Duterte said if Misuari would not abandon his proposal to include the Abu Sayyaf in the talks and grant them amnesty, then the peace negotiations with the MNLF are unlikely to push through.
“You wait for another President. Ayoko ng ganoon, as a matter of principle, I will not accept that. Either Nur abandons the Abu Sayyaf or he will take care of the Abu Sayyaf,” Duterte said in rejecting Misuari’s proposals.
Duterte said he has been waiting for Misuari to start the peace talks until the former Libyan firebrand came up with the Abu Sayyaf proposals. “Si Nur Misuari, I have been waiting for him. Ang bagong proposal is pati Abu Sayyaf isali na niya. At pagdating ng panahon kung magka-okay tayo, isali niya sa general amnesty. Pagka ganoon, huwag na lang tayong mag-usap. I will not. For the life of me, I will not. Why should I talk to animals? What’s the point?” he asked.
But MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla strongly denied that Misuari wanted the Abu Sayyaf in the peace talks. According to a report by The Philippine Star, Fontanilla expressed concern that some people might have been feeding Duterte false information to disrupt the resumption of peace talks with the government.
“We vehemently deny that chairman Misuari wants Abu Sayyaf to be included in the negotiation, we condemn terrorist actions,” Fontanilla was quoted as saying.
He said Misuari, in a gesture of goodwill, heeded the call of Duterte to help secure the release of the Abu Sayyaf hostages in Sulu and even engaged the militants in armed clashes that killed some MNLF members. (Mindanao Examiner)
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