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A group of Ulama offers to broker peace in war-torn Marawi

President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking at the headquarters of the 102nd Infantry Brigade in Malungon, Sarangani on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, shows off a gun brochure that he intends to provide to law enforcers. Rene Lumawag/PPD
© Provided by GMA News Online President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking at the headquarters of the 102nd Infantry Brigade in Malungon, Sarangani on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, shows off a gun brochure that he
MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
Manila, Philippines
July 10, 2017

A group of Muslim clerics is now in Manila apparently to lobby in Malacanang to authorize it to negotiate with the dreaded Maute group that attacked Marawi City on May 23 in order to leave the city and stop the war.

But sources said President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet shown any hint to meet the clerics.

It said one of the clerics has access to the Maute group and was the first person to personally talk to the armed group during the early days of the siege. It did not name him.

It shall be recalled that President Duterte last week denied a report that he pushed to make a deal with pro-ISIS Maute group after it attacked Marawi City in May.

“No, I did not. He is a pretender. I never talked to terrorists, that’s one. I will never talk to criminals and to terrorists,” Duterte told reporters. 
The President was referring to Agakhan Sharief.

Sharief told an international wire service agency that Duterte was preparing to make a deal with the Islamic State-inspired militants who laid siege to Marawi City but aborted the plan without explanation.

Sharief told Reuters he was approached by a senior aide of Duterte to use his connections with the Maute militant group's leaders to start a back-channel talks after a band of Islamist fighters overran parts of Marawi City on May 23 and took hundreds of people hostage.

Media quoted Duterte's top peace envoy Jesus Dureza as saying he was unaware of any back-channel talks, while his national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon said it was unlikely Duterte had reached out to the Maute group.

"Why will he talk to the terrorists?" Esperon said. (TNRS)
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