Duterte reveals Misuari threatening war over federalism push

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President Rodrigo Duterte met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari in Malacañang Tuesday night.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari threatened to go to war during their meeting in Malacañang Tuesday evening.

"Kagabi nag-usap kami sa harap ni Gen. (Carlito) Galvez, sa OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)," Duterte said in a speech at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) campaign rally in Marikina. "Sabi ko, 'Let us talk sa iyo.'" Sabi niya, "O sige. Pero ito ang gusto ko, federalism."

[Translation: Yesterday we talked in front of General Galvez, in the OPAPP. I told him, "Let's us talk about you." He said, "Okay, but this what I want, federalism."]

Misuari met with Duterte, Galvez, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. In the meeting, Duterte said Misuari claims the Moro community wants federalism, as supposedly promised by then President Corazon Aquino.

"Sabi ni Misuari kagabi [Misuari said last night], 'If you do not give it (federalism) to me, let me be very honest. I will go to war," Duterte revealed.

The President then proposed to Misuari to create a negotiating panel to check if the federalism the MNLF founding chairman is gunning for is similar to the system under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or a different kind of fderalism.

"Sabi ko [I said], 'I understand that Nur. So ganito na lang gawin natin [This is what we will do]. Let's form a panel, because we have to inform the people, we cannot negotiate secretly here,'" Duterte said.

Misuari has opted for a federal form of government over the Bangsamoro law, and refused to recognize the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) amid rumours of dissatisfaction of their MNLF faction's representation in the government body.

The MNLF has several factions, including Misuari's. Other factions include that of incumbent chair Yusuf Jikiri, and former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema -- which have expressed support for the BOL and have representatives in the BTA.

Federalism has been one of Duterte's campaign promises. The House of Representatives has passed a federal charter on third and final reading, but the Senate said it has no time for charter change.