PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, January 18, sought a meeting with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari, whom he called a "beloved friend," after the scheduled plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Duterte announced his plan during a speech delivered during a mass action held in Cotabato City to boost support for the BOL.
"Though he's not here, still, he is a critical factor in the overall process of not only [in] MIndanao but [in] the Philippines," the President said, referring to Misuari.
"I hope to talk to him in the coming days, as we agreed. Sabi ko, tapusin muna natin 'to, intayin natin 'yung atin (I said let's pause for a while and wait for the BOL plebiscite to conclude). Then we can resume after the Bangsamoro," he added.
The BOL, which creates a new Bangsamoro region that will be granted wider autonomy to the Moro people in Mindanao, was an offshoot of a 2014 peace deal between the National Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a rival of Misuari's MNLF.
The plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL will be on January 22 and February 6.
Prior to Duterte's latest remark, he already met with Misuari on August 22, 2018, or just barely a month after the landmark BOL was signed.
Duterte said he wanted to meet Misuari anew to hopefully forge a pact with the MNLF leader's faction that will benefit people in Mindanao.
"I would call out to him, extend my hand and friendship and peace. And I hope that we can strike an agreement that will also promote the interest of the MNLF and the rest of the Moro of Mindanao," he said.
"I hope -- to my beloved friend Misuari -- that we can also talk and come up with something that could come to the barest minimum para lang makuha natin 'yung (so we can achieve) a peaceful Mindanao," the Chief Executive added. (SunStar Philippines)