Review over but no Tripartite meet on Jan. 14

Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan, a member of the government peace panel that negotiated for four years from 1992 and signed a peace agreement with the MNLF in 1996, told MindaNews they are “still waiting” for word from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which brokered the talks in the 1970s and 1990s and which also initiated and facilitated the review of the implementation of the 11-year old peace pact.

The OIC was represented in the GRP-MNLF joint working groups through the OIC’s Southern Philippines Peace Committee, an 11-nation committee headed by Indonesia.

Tan, who also headed government’s delegation to the Jeddah tripartite meeting in November 2007, acknowledged that the January 14 date for the next tripartite meeting was agreed upon in Jeddah but “we did not receive any advice and no OIC decision yet as to venue.”

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, head of the MNLF delegation to Jeddah, said they have yet to receive notice from the OIC.

The joint working groups of the government and MNLF, along with representatives from the OIC’s PCSP, reviewed Shariah and Judiciary on January 3, Special Regional Security Force (SRSF) and Unified Command for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on 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 2007 Tripartite Meeting in Jeddah, told MindaNews on June 8 that 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.

Parcasio headed the joint working group on the Political Sytem while Tan headed the government delegation. Catholic priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former majority floor leader of the Consultative Assembly in the post 1996 peace pact, was a member of Parcasio’s team.

A group of MNLF officials who joined the Executive Council that ousted Nur Misuari as chair in April 2001, attended and participated in the review at the Indonesian Embassy, but complained to the OIC that the joint working group members were not MNLF members. The group said it will file its own report.

The group reportedly wanted to be made official members of the joint working group but the delegations were limited to only three members each.

Parcasio said Misuari chose “experts” to be part of the joint working groups.

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 comprising three members each 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. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)