President Duterte appeals to Moro rebels to end war in Mindanao

MANILA – Saying his job as leader of the country is to seek peace and not war, President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his appeal to the Moro rebels to end the four decades-long war in Mindanao.

”I would like to appeal to all that we should stop this war and bleeding. I will bring the Arab investors here so that you will have no so much dynamics. Just guarantee me that you want to end this fight and let’s talk,” Duterte said in his speech before the government soldiers at the Camp General Teodolfo Bautista in Bgy. Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.

President Duterte particularly addressed his appeal to the Sulu-based Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels headed by Nur Misuari.

”So my job when I became president was really to seek peace, not war and I will start immediately the peace and also the people here, and also to Nur, we knew each other long time ago. I’ve been telling Nur, can we just talk and then, let’s find the way how,” the President said.

If he would be able to bring peace in Mindanao, Duterte promised that development would follow. particularly in Sulu which has over 800,000 population based on 2015 National Statistics Office (NSO) data.

”If you agree for peace, I will lengthen the runway and make it operational day and night. I’m tell you that,” Duterte said.

”I reiterated my commitment for the Moro people and the Tausug that I want to end this war so that our soldiers can go home because they have also their own family to take care,” he added.

Aside from the MNLF, President Duterte said he also pushing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

”Secretary (Jesus) Dureza and the guys in the government panel will talk to Nur and kung maari isaabay ko na lang dahil magastos yang isa’t isa. Half of the discussion with Nur, and half of the discussion with the MILF,” the President said.

While he is pursuing peace with the Moro rebels, the President said the government troops would continue to fight the criminals like the kidnap for ransom Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao.

”Those who want to destroy us, then you have to destroy, not only fight, we destroy because if not, nothing will happen,” President Duterte advised the soldiers.

With regards to the Communist Party of the Philippines, President Duterte said his government would continue to pursue the peace negotiation with the communist rebels with or without CPP-National People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) founding leader Jose Ma. Sison.

”We are still pursing the talks with or without Sison. Here we are ready but I don’t know it if would come within this month,” Duterte said.

Duterte explained to the government troops that he declared unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels in his first state of the nation address (SONA) last July 25 to show good faith that government wanted to talk peace with them.

The President added that he decided to lift the ceasefire five days later after the NPA failed to meet the deadline to reciprocate. The NPA rebels even ambushed the government militiamen, killing one militiamen and injuring four others while President Duterte was waiting for CPP’s response.

”I decided to lift and then they came out with statement in the evening that they are supposed to cease fire. I said don’t fool me. But we are still pursuing the talks,” the President said.

For the government troops, President Duterte reiterated his promised to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

”You have to be very vigilant. Everything you need to win, I will give it to you. Under my watch there will be no problem. You will have state of the art hospitals. I will give for your use as ambulance my (presidential) jet. I will just take commercial flights. Let’s just work for this republic,” the President told the government troops.

The Camp General Bautista was the 11th military camp that Duterte visited since his inauguration as the country’s 16th President last June 30. Jelly Musico/PNA/