President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a coordinating committee between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front to resume the peace talks in Mindanao next month.
During his fourth meeting with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari on Friday night, Duterte relayed his desire to immediately form the committee to ensure peace in Sulu and to start the talks next month in Davao City, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The committee will serve as a venue to seek the cooperation of the MNLF to achieve immediate peace in Sulu, the group’s turf, and to combat the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Sulu has been a challenge for the government in achieving peace in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao because its leaders are mostly representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the rival group of the MNLF.
The coordinating committee also aims to convince MNLF members to return to the folds of the law, Panelo said.
Duterte also instructed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity to convene the meeting in September.
The meeting between Duterte and Misuari was attended by peace adviser Carlito Galvez as shown in the photos given to Palace reporters.
Meanwhile, Misuari has proposed to include the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the peace efforts and discussions in Mindanao, Panelo said.
Misuari pitched this to assure the compliance of the government in the 1996 peace accord with the MNLF.
The OIC is an international organization that brands itself as the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” aiming to protect the interests of Muslims in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.
Founded in 1969, the organization has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
Panelo did not say if the President has agreed to Misuari’s pitch to include the OIC in the peace talks.
The 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF was forged under the auspices of the influential organization.
But Panelo said the President would “walk the extra mile” to promote peace in the country.
“In resolving the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, every undertaking that may lead to a lasting peace and prosperity to that region must be tried and tested until its fruition," he said.