Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended an olive branch to two long-time Philippine insurgent groups in a bid to create a fully united front against ISIS.
Duterte made the offer to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who for decades have engaged in fights with the government in Manila over independence and self-rule. A peace agreement struck in 2014 offered the group substantial autonomy in the regions over which they agitate. Many former members of the group who did not approve of the 2014 ceasefire and peace deal have joined ISIS. Duterte also made the offer to members of the Moro National Liberation Front, some of whom have not yet joined ISIS and remain committed to a secular programme.
Duterte likewise extended the deal to the , the militant wing of the Maoist Communist Party of Philippines.
Rodrigo Duterte defined the offer in the following way,
“I will hire you as soldiers – same pay, same privileges, and I will build houses for you in some areas”.
“If this drags on, and you want to join, take your chance with the Republic”.
Thus far it remains to be seen whether the militants will take Duterte up on the offer. If they do it would represent an historic and unlikely alliance against a common threat to safety.
This offer made by the Philippine President is a further sign of how the mainstream media have distorted the truth on Syria.
In Syria, there are only three factions. First of all there is the government, then there are terrorists, all of whom adhere to the vile Wahhabist/Salafist ideology of ISIS and finally there are the secular Kurdish forces. There are objectively no ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria.
In Philippines, Duterte is trying to cultivate former foes into ‘moderate rebels’ who may be willing to unite against ISIS in exchange for partial legitimisation by Manila.
If Duterte is successful, then for the first time in any conflict with ISIS, one could legitimately use the term ‘moderate rebel’.