Duterte says Misuari warned him of war

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2019 09:46 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2019 02:29 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte gives a warm welcome to Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari at a meeting at the Malacañang Palace on March 19, 2019. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari warned him of war should the government fail to pursue a shift to federalism.

Duterte met with Misuari in Malacañang on Tuesday, their second meeting in a month following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), a measure creating a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao with greater autonomy.

Misuari is a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the entity superseded by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the result of a peace pact between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a splinter group of the MNLF.

"Sabi niya, 'O sige. Pero ito ang gusto ko, federalism.' Sabi ni Misuari and I am making it public and you can ask the persons who were there," Duterte said at a PDP-Laban campaign sortie in Marikina.

(He said, 'Fine. But I want federalism.' Misuari said this and I am making it public and you can ask the persons who were there.)

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

Misuari is tagged in the siege of Zamboanga City in 2013 amid the MNLF's exclusion from government's then still on going peace negotiations with the MILF. The government signed its peace deal with the MILF in 2014.

The President said he told Misuari that he would form a panel because “you cannot negotiate secretly here.”

"Sabi ko, I understand that, Nur. So ganito na lang gawin natin. Let’s form a panel because we have to inform the people," Duterte said.

He explained to Misuari the panel will tackle "what kind of federalism he wants."

The new Bangsamoro region is expected to be led by the MILF during its 3-year transition period.