Misuari relents

Founding MNLF chief lays down terms for talks
MORO National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari has agreed to return to talk under the condition that there would be a third party facilitator and the Office of Islamic Affairs will serve as witness.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte told an audience of overseas Filipino workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that Misuari has already given his initial nod to talking peace after being assured of his safety by the head of state.

“I have no intention of detaining you or placing you at the custody of government,” President Duterte said.

Mr. Duterte said that he can order, as commander-in-chief, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police should not honor any warrant against Misuari.

The President also offered his own residence at the Malacanang Palace if Misuari decides to accept Mr. Duterte’s invitation of an initial dialogue.

Mr. Duterte said that the meetings with Misuari—whom he called his personal friend many times in the past—could be held either in Manila or Davao.

President Duterte earlier said that the Philippines was in the best position to talk peace, with the government already reaching out to the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

An indefinite ceasefire has been bilaterally declared by both the GRP and the NDF.

The GPH-MILF panels, meanwhile, are already working on implementing its agreements signed as part of the push for a law for the Bangsamoro.

The invitation to the MNLF comes amid reports of a meeting among leaders of both MNLF and MILF for a position on future peace talks.

In September 2013, Misuari was accused of masterminding the bloody Zamboanga siege where MNLF forces and government troops clashed for 20 days. Hundreds were displaced and about 170 killed on both sides, along with civilians.

Misuari was charged with rebellion for his role. The MNLF leader was said to be hiding in Sulu.

The MNLF said it merely wanted to assert its rights based on its agreement with the national government.