Duterte appoints Misuari as special envoy to international Islamic agency

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2019 05:24 PM

Photo from Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday appointed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari as the Philippines' special economic envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the world's second largest inter-governmental body after the United Nations.

Misuari, a former University of the Philippines instructor, are friends with most OIC leaders, Duterte said.

"I do not think that there is [any] other Moro personality that could command the respect and trust of the OIC but only you," the President told Misuari in a meeting in Davao City, according to a statement the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process released Saturday.

"Consider it as an honor for me to delegate you as special envoy of the government so that you can foster further lasting relationships with the leaders of the Islamic countries," he said.

Misuari will attend the annual meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC in Burkina Faso in January 2020, a month before leaders of the international agency is slated to visit the Philippines.

The OIC played a role in the creation of the Bangsamoro, the autonomous region borne out of the peace pact between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), by helping "harmonize all the Moro fronts in the Philippines and integrate all the development plans to foster long lasting and enduring peace in Mindanao."

The Misuari-led MNLF was among the Moro factions that have agreed to be reintegrated to society after the Duterte administration forged a policy to create the Bangsamoro region.

"At least before I step down, I want to see an enduring peace in Mindanao," Duterte told Misuari and other members of the Peace Coordinating Committee.

Among Cabinet members present in the meeting held in Duterte's hometown were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Duterte also urged Misuari to help government "convince the Moro members of Congress" to work on the administration's push to shift to a federal form of government.

"Our allies in Congress have assured me that they will work on it because that is part of my program. In the [presidential] campaign, I said drugs, corruption, and federal system. I have to comply," he said.

Misuari was former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the region replaced by the Bangsamoro. In 2013, he was charged for alleged involvement in the Zamboanga siege, an attack the MNLF launched allegedly over its exclusion from peace talks between government and the Moro group, the MILF.

The siege left some 200 dead, including cops, soldiers, rebels, and civilians.

Misuari was released on bail in 2016 and has since met with Duterte several times.