Duterte wants Nur Misuari to join BBL talks with rival group

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CNN Philippines (Metro Manila, June 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari would join the discussions in formulating the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

But that would mean joining the talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a splinter group of the MNLF.

"We will try to pass the BBL. I hope chairman Misuari can be convinced to join the talks so that if there are corrections or maybe additions or provisions that could not sit well with the Tausug and the rest of the southern part of Mindanao then maybe we can realize altogether the friction of MI (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), MN and the rest of Mindanao," said Duterte during the Eid'l Fitr celebration in Davao City.

Duterte said he would rather see the conflict between the two rival groups resolved as Mindanao faces the threat of ISIS.

"Pero kung sabihan mo na  [But if you would say], if you do not think about it, if you kind of adopt intransigence behavior, magpatigasan [if nobody will give way], it will result in war. Kindly, if you want, do not do it on my term. 'Pag di tayo magka-aregulan, ako nasa gitna mahirapan ako. Sino'ng barilin ko? Sundalo ng republika or sundalo ng MI pati MN? [If we do not reach an agreement, I will be in the middle of the fight. Who should I shoot? The republic’s soldier or soldiers MI and MN?] " he said.

Duterte appealed to the Moro groups to give the government time to work on another peace accord if the BBL does not work out. He insisted he does not want to wage war against his own countrymen.

He added that he is aiming to have BBL aligned with the proposed federalism and the Constitution, saying that the MILF version of the BBL can even be implemented already. But he said he would rather wait for the final version of BBL.

During his campaign, Duterte promised to bring peace in the south through the passage of the BBL. It aims to provide a basic structure of government focusing on the rights of the Bangsamoro people, described as "natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan."

The measure paves the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, the successor to the ARMM established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734. It also delineates authority in the region by assigning jurisdiction of reserved powers for the Central government, exclusive powers for the Bangsamoro government, and concurrent powers for both the Central and the Bangsamoro governments.

BBL had been both approved on third and final reading by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Lawmakers will reconcile their BBL versions in meetings scheduled on July 9 -13.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas has said that Duterte is expected to enact BBL on the day of his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.