Duterte denies initiating backdoor talks with Maute group

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Malaybalay City, Philippines— President Rodrigo Duterte vehemently denied reports that he initiated backdoor  talks with the Maute group in Marawi City.

In  an interview at Camp Bahain, Thursday, July 6,  Duterte emphasized “No I did not… he’s a pretender. I have never talked to terrorist, that’s one. I will never talk to criminals and to terrorists.”

“But I would talk to revolutionaries who are imbued with their values to a principle there, kagaya nitong Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). I talked to them because what drove them to fight government is the rising nationalism,” Duterte  who was interviewed after visiting members of the 403rd Infantry Brigade at Camp Bahain.

Duterte issued the statement after a certain Agakhan Sharief  known in the locality as Bin Ladin claimed one of Duterte’s aide approached him to act as intermediary to start back-channel talks with the Islamic State-inspired militants.

Duterte said that the MNLF and the MILF might have initiated talks with the Maute group.

“But kung manggaling sa akin, ako maghingi sa mga criminal pati terorista, imposible. Tsaka marami na akong patay na sundalo pati pulis. Huwag nila akong biruin ng istorya-istorya lang tayo,” addressing himself of Sharief..

(But if it came from me, I ask the criminls and terrorist? Impossible. despite, I have so many dead soldiers and policemen, they should not make joke throught stories-Let’s talk))

“If there has to be peace, it would really be peace. Huwag mo akong laruin ‘yang away ngayon tapos bukas (They should not  play stories with me, today we fight tomorrow it ends) — let us finish this once and for all,” Duterte said.

An international news organization published a story quoting among other Sharief who claimed Duterte’s aide asked him to facilitate a negotiation with the Maute after the may 23 Marawi siege broke off but the supposed negotiation collapsed as Duterte reportedly withdrew the plan for no valid reason at all.

Shareif did not reveal the facilitator.

Peace adviser Jesus Dureza earlier denied knowledge about the supposed backdoor talks.-Editha Z. Caduaya

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