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Duterte dangles self-rule to breakaway Muslim rebel group

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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. DUTERTE — REY BANIQUET/PPD

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is considering creating another autonomous government in Mindanao for the Moro National Liberation Front, presidential peace adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said on Tuesday.

“That is the presidential guidance, and we will look into it if it is applicable,” Mr. Galvez said at a briefing.

He said he would meet with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of creating a peace committee made up of MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front members. MNLF is a breakaway Muslim rebel group.

The peace committee will seek to discuss ways to end decades of strife in Mindanao.

Mr. Galvez said he is in talks with the Jikiri and Misuari factions of the MNLF, whose main territory is Sulu province, about the matter.

Majority of voters in Sulu, which was part of the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, rejected the Bangsamoro Organic Law in a plebiscite in January. But it had no effect because ARMM provinces including Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi voted as a unit.




The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao created under the BOL, is a fruit of the peace deal between the government and the MILF.

Mr. Duterte and Mr. Misuari agreed last March to create a panel composed of five MNLF members and five from the government to discuss a possible shift to federalism. The president in July said this was not the time to discuss federalism.

“The president is now beginning to see the imperfections of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” University of Santo Tomas political science professor Marlon M. Villarin said by telephone. “The challenge is how to make the law inclusive.” — ALB

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