Duterte courts MILF votes

CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday visited the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as he vowed to push for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) if elected president.

He was the first presidential candidate to step foot in the camp of the Moro rebel group.

Duterte, in a meeting Saturday with members of the MILF’s central committee led by Ghazali Jaafar, the group’s vice chairman for political affairs, assured the Moro group that its territories will be recognized by his administration.

However, he quickly added it would be in the context of federalism as he also plans on carving territories for the tausugs, samals, yakans and other Moro groups.

“We can have the BBL as a template for federalism in other regions,” Duterte said during the meeting at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao Province.

But Jaafar explained that the passage of the BBL is the only solution to the growing extremism in Mindanao because the extremist fighters are actually Bangsamoro heroes who are tired of the national government’s promises.

Duterte then said that would ask Congress for the urgent passage of the BBL, and will just include a version to the federal form of government later.

The city mayor stressed that his visit to the MILF’s main enclave was not to campaign.

“I am here not to campaign. I know that you are apolitical. I also know that you will give independence to your people and you will respect their decision,” Duterte said.

During the meeting, Jaafar admitted that he admires Duterte especially in how he was able to build the city from its bloody past.

“We are inspired by his courage as we are impressed by what he did to Davao, a city that is progressive — where business is good and where people are given the opportunity to better their lives,” said Jaafar.

The MILF leader also hopes that Duterte could replicate what he achieved in Davao City all over the country, particularly against illegal drugs since it is prohibited in Islam.

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