GRP-MNLF joint working groups end review

The joint working groups on Shari’ah and Judiciary met at the Indonesian Embassy in Manila on January 3, Special Regional Security Force (SRSF) and Unified Command for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao met January 4, Natural Resources and Economic Development issues (including mines and minerals) on January 5, Political system and Representation on January 6 and Education on January 7. These are the same issues listed in Phase 2 of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, acting head of the MNLF delegation to the November 2006 Tripartite Meeting in Jeddah, told MindaNews the reviews were filled with “cordial exchange.”

“Issues have been joined, time to resolve them hopefully in the Tripartite Meeting,” Parcasio said.

The joint working group on Political System and Representation which met on January 6, took the longest in reviewing, Parcasio said.

Nabil Tan,  Peace Process Undersecretary and head of government delegation to the November 2006 Jeddah meeting, declined to comment on the reviews. “I think there will be a press release from the Peace Committee after the secretariat meeting,” he told MindaNews.

The review was proposed in May 2006 by a Fact-Finding Mission sent by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), where the MNLF sits as an observer, to look into the implementation of the September 2, 1996 peace agreement, given the conflicting reports from the government and MNLF.

The Tripartite Meeting, supposedly scheduled for July 2006 finally pushed through only in November 2007 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

As a result of that meeting, five joint working groups were created to review the implementation.
The working groups were tasked to look into the provisions of RA 9054, the law that was supposed to have incorporated the provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, and compare this with the Agreement’s provisions.

The joint working groups, composed of three representatives each from the government and the MNLF, are expected to submit their reports on January 10 for deliberation by the next Tripartite Meeting on January 14. The venue for the meeting has yet to be announced.

The working groups’ meetings were attended by representatives of the OIC’s Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP), an 11-nation expanded version of what used to be the Ministerial Committee of the Eight headed by Indonesia. (MindaNews)