President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he is praying for the “enlightenment” of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari, saying there are still “sparks” which threaten the “smooth transition” of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“I am praying to God that Nur Misuari will be enlightened and he’ll be able to accept maybe the same terms that we have extended to Murad. That is the only way really without a breakage in our society,” Duterte said in his speech in the Palace.
Duterte has referred to Murad Ebrahim, BARMM interim chief minister and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman.
The BARMM is created through the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law after government’s negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a breakaway faction of the MNLF.
Misuari has opposed the creation of BARMM, saying it was in favor of the rival MILF and has excluded his group.
BARMM also replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that Misuari previously governed.
Duterte has met with Misuari in Malacañang three times this year but the details of their latest meeting last month were not released by the Palace.
The President had repeatedly sought Misuari’s help to ensure lasting peace in Mindanao.
He also said he was in a “hurry” to strike an agreement with Misuari who had warned of war if the planned shift into a federal system of government will not push through.
Duterte also said he is worried about an ISIS attack, and that he prayed that God would spare the Philippines from the terror group’s “brutality and cruelty.”
“There is ISIS and it gives me fear,” the President said.
“I’m praying, I really pray, I kneel before God to spare us the kind of brutality and cruelty in our country because it will really be bloody, bloody as it can ever be,” he said.
The New York Times reported in March that the Philippines is groomed to become an emerging base for ISIS.
ISIS had “attracted a range of militant jihadists” in Mindanao, according to the NYT.