This was the agreement reached during the 2nd tripartite meeting of the GRP, MNLF and Organization of the Islamic Conference held February 14-16 in Istanbul, Turkey.
The MNLF has been holding an observer status in the pan-Islamic body for three decades now.
According to the Communique signed at the end of the meeting, the five joint working groups are expected to submit their progress reports by May 1 this year for consideration in the third tripartite meeting on May 12 to 15 at a still unannounced venue. The working groups’ reports will be transmitted to the 35th Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Kampala, Uganda.
The working groups — on Shari’ah and Judiciary; Special Regional Security Force (SRSF) and Unified Command for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Natural Resources and Economic Development issues (including mines and minerals); Political system and representation; and Education — were also urged to invite experts “to assist in the exercise of their mandates.”
The Communique was signed by Undersecretary Nabil Tan, deputy presidential adviser on the peace process and head of the government delegation; Randolph Parcasio of the MNLF; Indonesian Ambassador Rezlan I. Jennie, director for Multilateral Affairs of Indonesia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the OIC Peace Committee for the Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP), and Ambassador Zayed El-Masry, special envoy to the OIC.
The Communique also noted that both government and the MNLF reaffirmed their commitment to the “primacy of the 1996 FPA in order to provide a congenial environment for its unhampered implementation.”
“The Meeting underscored the cardinal importance of social economic development but outlined that such development is conditional on the creation of a climate of peace and security through confidence building measures that include rehabilitation, relief, and reconstruction and attending to the problems of internally displaced people. Both parties should jointly undertake these exercises under the framework of the JWGs,” it said.
The review of the 1996 peace pact’s implementation was proposed in May 2006 by a Fact-Finding Mission sent by the OIC 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.
The Jeddah talks in November 2007 led to the creation of the five joint working groups tasked to review the implementation of the 1996 peace pact. The groups met in Manila on January 3 to 7 for the review but no consensus was reached. The government and MNLF filed separate reports.
The Istanbul meeting instructed the joint working groups to “examine further the positions of the two sides in order to arrive at commonalities by examinıng those provisions of the 1996 FPA which were not fully implemented and come up with mutually acceptable solutions,” the Communique said.
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)