MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said former Marawi City mayor Omar Solitario Ali was commissioned by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza to negotiate with the Maute group.
"Yes, correct. He was commissioned by Dureza. It was with the acquiescence, not expressly ni Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana. Dureza, and I and Lorenzana had a talk on the desire of Solitario to surrender 'cause he found out his name was on the list," Duterte said in a press briefing at the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.
"Sabi niya, 'I’m better off working for you than putting me in prison.' He proposed many things, mostly talking peace with Mautes, bargaining doon sa hostages. More ako doon sa release ng hostages. I confirm that it really happened," he added.
The military on Friday said it rejected offers or attempts of negotiations with the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group to end the long-drawn conflict in Marawi City.
Ali reportedly sent a text message to government officials requesting for the safe exit of terrorists still holed up in the main battle area in exchange for the release of hostages.
Ali's name was previously included in the arrest order released by the Department of National Defense for alleged links to the Marawi siege and other attacks in Mindanao.
His brother, Fajad Umpar "Pre" Salic, also a former Marawi mayor, was arrested for rebellion at a checkpoint in Misamis Oriental last June.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that the government expects the Marawi siege to be over before the end of September.
The crisis, which has entered its 4th month, has left nearly 800 people dead, including 133 government troops.
It has also forced over 200,000 people out of their homes and has ravaged one of the bustling urban centers in Mindanao.