New regional government for MNLF possible, says Galvez

MANILA. Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. holds a press conference on August 20, 2019. (Photo by Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte might consider creating a new regional government for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari, Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday, August 20.

"Sa ngayon, titignan po namin, based doon sa magiging ayos po ng peace agenda namin with MNLF. Sa ngayon, hindi ko pa masasabi, considering that we have not organized yet the MNLF coordinating committee," Galvez said in a press briefing with Palace reporters, when asked if the creation of a new political entity for MNLF is possible.

(As of now, we'll see, based on our peace agenda with the MNLF. As of now, I cannot tell, considering that we have not organized yet the MNLF coordinating committee.)

"I cannot give you an exact answer, considering that we are still talking with Misuari and maybe, one of our peace agenda is that one, if it is really possible," he added.

Galvez raised the possibility, as he agreed that the MNLF cannot go along with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose peace deal with government already bore fruit with the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

He said he would have a "personal" meeting with Misuari on Wednesday, August 21, but refused to give further details.

Pressed if Duterte wants the creation of a new political entity in favor of the MNLF, Galvez said: "I will go to him 'cause I'll clarify his guidance."

He said a new regional government for MNLF could help the government achieve Duterte's target to make Sulu, a bailiwick of Misuari, "peaceful" within the year.

"The main challenge, geographically, of the BARMM is Sulu," the presidential peace adviser said.

"Right now, alam naman natin na ang MNLF, ang pinaka-main ano nila is Sulu. And ang pinaka-main concern ni Presidente is maging peaceful ang Sulu within the year (Right now, we know that the Sulu is the MNLF's bailiwick. And the President's main concern is to make Sulu peaceful within the year)," he added.

The BARMM was established following the January 21 and February 6 plebiscites that led to the ratification of the historic Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro inked between the national government and the MILF in 2014.

The BARMM, which replaces the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, enjoys expanded land and water jurisdiction, greater fiscal autonomy, and increased share in national government resources, among others.

The new Bangsamoro region is composed of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Marawi City, Lamitan City, Cotabato City, and 63 villages in North Cotabato.

Duterte in February revealed that there were "rumblings" within the MNLF following the alleged unequal distribution of slots in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, a body that serves as interim government of the BARMM.

On March 20, the President divulged that Misuari had threatened to wage a war, if his administration fails to approve a shift to federalism.

Adopting a federal type of government was one of Duterte's campaign promises in a bid to provide for better distribution of public services as well as promote peace and order in Mindanao, where insurgents and extremist groups continue to operate. (SunStar Philippines)


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