Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte during a news conference at a hotel in Davao City, in southern Philippines, on May 26, 2016
June 20, 2016

Incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has met with two Islamist rebel groups in what is seen as a historic move in the country’s efforts towards resolving its Islamist insurgency.

Muslim rebels pledged their support for Duterte’s proposed shift to a federal government in the hopes it would redistribute wealth and be a step toward ending the troubles on Mindanao — the second largest island in the Philippines and the center of the 40-year separatist conflict — according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. They also agreed to open a dialogue among Muslims on the island.

Duterte, who will assume office on June 30, is believed to hold sway with rebel leaders given his decades-long tenure as mayor of the island’s most populous city Davao.

Analysts speculate that he could make considerable strides in tackling the long-standing insurgency that has recently been making world headlines through an ongoing hostage crisis.


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