- President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he gave full authority to MNLF Chair Nur Misuari and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza in the peace talks with the Abu Sayyaf Group
- Duterte said that he cannot tell if it is already safe in Mindanao given the terror attacks in the region
- Nur Misuari was involved in the peace talks with Abu Sayyaf on the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad
Full authority was given to Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza in the peace talks and negotiations with the bandit group Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
(Photo from: mb.com)
President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he assigned them to do the task of negotiating peace with the group.
“It was a long, long negotiation as far as I’m concerned. I’ve talked with Nur Misuari, even in the Cabinet meetings I had him called and he assured us that we would be able to recover, alive and well, Kjartan,” the President said during a press briefing at the Matina Enclave in Davao City.
Duterte added, “I was just directing the traffic... to go about the job and simply investing upon them, the full authority to negotiate and see to it that nothing of this sort will happen again.”
Despite the rebellion charges filed against Misuari due to the 20-day Zamboanga siege in 2013, Duterte said that he would not want Misuari to be detained.
Before giving his speech, Duterte shook hands with the freed Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad. He also expressed his gratitude to Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan for his efforts in securing the release of Sekkingstad.
“First of all I would like to thank the efforts, the efforts beyond human patience of Secretary Dureza and of course, Nur Misuari, who all along assured us that he would need time but he would succeed. So he said, many months ago, and I would like to thank him also, and of course, Sakurtan, the former governor of Sulu,” Duterte said.
Sekkingstad was abducted by the rebel group last year, along with Canadian nationals John Ridsel and Robert Hall and Filipino Marites Flor.
He was released last Sunday afternoon by the ASG to the Moro National Liberation Front in Patikul, Sulu. However, the two Canadians were beheaded while Flor was also released last June.
Meanwhile, Duterte said in his speech that he could not say whether it is already safe in Mindanao or not.
“Is it safe in Mindanao? I cannot tell you now, but we are trying our very best to put order in this country. We are racked with wracked with so many problems: kidnapping in the South, terrorism, drugs and I would say I would need time to put everything in order,” he explained.
At this moment, the Abu Sayyaf Group is still holding at least 20 hostages according to AFP Spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla. [source]