The national government will retaliate if ever Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari enacts on his threat to go to war over federalism, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo addressed Thursday.
Panelo canned Misuari’s bluff as a form of “blackmail” towards the current administration, adding he was only “expressing his disappointment” because one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promises was still not in place.
Panelo cited the government would not take Misauri’s threat” lightly”, saying “if you force us against the wall, this is what we will do.” He added Duterte also given a “counter-threat” to Misuari that they would “die together” if the federalism initiative failed.
“‘But we will celebrate if we succeed. And as a response to going to war, then we will die fighting each other,’” Panelo added.
As for now, Panelo recalled, the two sides “want peace” and would soon start the talks on the federalism initiative.
Panelo said Duterte had proposed that the two parties make their respective five-member panels to discuss the proposed shift to federalism and reminded Misuari that the final federalism proposal was still up to Congress.
“If he goes to war, then he will be fighting the government. If he is fighting the government and the head of the government is the President, they would be fighting each other,” Panelo stated.
He recalled Misuari was truly “happy” with the President’s offer for the federalism talks and expressed hope it could be attained within his term.
“He reminded the President that federalism was one of the promises he made to the electorate. And he is confident that within the three years remaining term of the President, federalism would fit in,” Panelo concluded.
“Knowing the chairman who has been fighting for a peaceful solution in Mindanao, and knowing the deep relationship between the two leaders, I am confident that there will be an agreement, a modus vivendi between the two sides and we will have peace in Mindanao.”