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Misuari camp pushes federal shift

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari on Monday tackled possible scenarios for Mindanao in a federal form of government, including the creation of three states for Christians, Muslims and highlanders.

The idea of having three states in Mindanao in a federal form of government was devised by MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza.

Cerveza was officially in Misuari’s party, but failed to attend the meeting due to health reasons. 

Other topics that Misuari and Duterte could have discussed is the establishment of four federated states comprising Mindanao, Visayas, South Luzon and North Luzon, Cerveza said.

“In the federal form of government, the modality of dividing… could easily be managed, but when the areas become independent, the issue is how to bring them back into unity,” Cerveza said.

Although the President has said he wants to lead the country into a federal system, political leaders are uncertain about what kind of setup will be adopted.

Cerveza said it was also uncertain what would happen to Misuari and his future in a federal system in Mindanao.

“We have our own proposals on federalism, but it is a long process as to whether it would be adopted and remains to be seen until the modality... is perfected,” he added.

“I don’t think it will be set up during Duterte’s term,” Cerveza said.

The Palace said the meeting between Duterte and Misuari went well, with both reaffirming their commitment to bring lasting peace in conflict-torn Mindanao.

“Basically it was a reaffirmation of the importance of securing just and lasting peace and development for Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters in a Palace briefing on Tuesday. “It was warm, cordial and positive.”

Misuari was accompanied by his wife Tarhata and son Abdul Karim in the meeting, which took place at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on Monday night. 

In the past, Duterte had expressed his intention to talk with Misuari on the administration’s effort to change the form of government to a federal system.

The first time Duterte, as president, met Misuari was in November last year in Malacañang.

The MNLF leader faces rebellion charges for the Zamboanga siege in 2013 where at least 200 persons were killed.

Misuari’s arrest warrant was temporarily suspended by the court last year and this enabled him to travel from Jolo to the Palace in Manila.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari , federal form of government , federalism
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