Only days after the designated representatives of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte signed an agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for the immediate resumption of peace talks, Duterte himself hosted a meeting with both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The gathering of Mindanao leaders was held in Davao City, where Duterte has been holding office prior to his formal assumption of the Presidency. The talks centered around the proposal to shift to a federal form of government.
According to MNLF leader, Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, “A federal system could very well put in place a government of transparency and accountability, and effectively address the peace and order problems including drug trafficking and kidnap for ransom.”
He adds that, “The president-elect has our commitment and our support, hindi sa salita, sa gawa (not just in talk, but in actions). It’s high-time wag na yung mga salita-salita (we stop being just all talk). All of the things we talked about, we have to do it.”
For its part, the MILF, which was represented by its chairman Al-hajj Murad Ebrahim and first vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar, is also optimistic about peace in Mindanao. They have reached out to the leaders of the MNLF to come together “in unity” and forge a peace deal with the Duterte administration.
Despite not having formally assumed the Presidency, Duterte has been actively working towards a quick end to both the communist insurgency and muslim rebellion that has plagued the country for decades. If he is successful in this, he will be the first President to rule over a peaceful Philippines in more than half a century.