Duterte: Nur Misuari wants peace talks held in Malaysia

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President Rodrigo Duterte says MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari wants to involve the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in peace talks. Malaysia has been helping the peace process in Mindanao by acting as mediator.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday confirmed he spoke with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari regarding a possible dialogue before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Duterte administration is working on peace talks to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

Duterte spoke during his meeting with distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Saudi Arabia, who arrived Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2.

Duterte said Misuari wants to begin a dialogue in Malaysia. The Philippine government has been getting the help of Malaysia to be the mediator in achieving peace in Mindanao.

Duterte said he also assured Misuari that he will not be detained despite a standing warrant of arrest.

"We talked last night... And I told him, 'Nur, I have no intention of detaining you or placing you in the custody of the government. You can simply walk out there, ask any soldier and police to escort you kung saan ako. Mag-usap tayo," Duterte said.

[Translation: "We talked last night... And I told him, 'Nur, I have no intention of detaining you or placing you in the custody of the government. You can simply walk out there, ask any soldier and police to escort you towards where I am. Let's talk."]

"But he wants [to hold a dialogue in] Kuala Lumpur, in front of the OIC and some of the, well, 'yung mga tao niya sa Bangsa-Jolo, Bangsa-Tausug... Sabi ko na, 'Dalian mo, Nur, kasi we are wasting lives here."

[Translation: "But he wants [to hold a dialogue in] Kuala Lumpur, in front of the OIC and some of the, well, his allies in Bangsa-Jolo, Bangsa-Tausug... I told him, 'We should hurry, Nur, because we are wasting lives here."]

Duterte said he can even ask authorities to lift Misuari's warrant of arrest. The Moro leader has been in hiding since warrants of arrest were issued against him due to the September 2013 Zamboanga siege, where at least 300 people died and more than 120,000 families displaced.

"Ako ang hepe ng police pati ng militar so sabihin ko, 'Wag niyong galawin,'" Duterte said. "Because if you arrest Misuari, you place him under the custody of the police dyan sa [Camp] Crame, then he dies for whatever reason, kompromiso na tayo... Mahirapan na tayo. He's the only known leader who has the influence and the stature. Nobody else stands there."

[Translation: "I am the Chief of the police and military so I'll just tell them, 'Do not arrest him.' Because if you arrest Misuari, you place him under the custody of the police in Camp Crame, then he dies for whatever reason, we'll be compromised. We'll have a hard time. He's the only known leader who has the influence and the stature. Nobody else stands there."]

Meanwhile, Duterte said he is willing to fulfill Misuari's plan.

"I can go to him. I can go to Jolo. If he wants [to talk] somewhere else, in Davao, Malacañang... Wala akong problema. At this time, I cannot be too stringent in the matters that would affect whether or not we succeed. Kasi the most important thing, really, is there is a dialogue going on kasi it has saved us a lot of money now... Habulin natin 'yan para 'yung pera pang-away, bigay na lang natin sa tao pang-hanapbuhay," he said.

[Translation: " I can go to him. I can go to Jolo. If he wants [to talk] somewhere else, in Davao, Malacañang... I don't have any problem. At this time, I cannot be too stringent in the matters that would affect whether or not we succeed. The most important thing, really, is there is a dialogue going on because it has saved us a lot of money now... Let's catch up so that the money that would supposedly be allotted for war will just be used for livelihood."]

Moro livelihood

The President said ending the conflict with the Moros will not only improve lives, but would sustain robust economic growth, especially in the agriculture sector.

"Ang Mindanao holds the greatest promise [in the] agriculture [sector]. Sobra-sobra talaga ang lupa kaya pinabigay ko na. Sabi ko, itong mga [miyembro ng] NPA (New People's Army), komunista, walang problema, mag-land reform tayo. Marami akong lupa sa Pilipinas ibigay sa inyo. Just be sincere. If you really want peace, more than you [need it], I need it for my country," he said.

[Translation: "Mindanao holds the greatest promise in the agriculture sector. There is so much land that's why I've allotted them for Filipinos. I said, these members of the NPA, communist rebels, I see no problem, let's implement land reform. The Philippines has so much land area, I could give them to you. Just be sincere. If you really want peace, more than you [need it], I need it for my country."]

Also read: Bangsamoro: Many cultures united under Islam

Duterte also wants to revive barter trade in the region.

"Ibalik na lang natin 'yung barter trade. Nung panahon na 'yon, walang rebelde and everybody was busy making a living. Kung ibalik mo 'yung historical livelihood nila, barter trade, it might help promote peace in the island of Mindanao," he said.

[Translation: "Let's revive barter trade. At that time, there were no rebels and everybody was busy making a living. If you bring back their historical livelihood, barter trade, it might help promote peace in the island of Mindanao."]