GRP, MNLF reps meet with OIC in Istanbul

But Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza told MindaNews the meeting in Istanbul, scheduled February 14 to 16, is “just on the technical working group level.”

He said the government delegation is headed by Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabil Tan while the MNLF delegation is headed by lawyer Randolph Parcasio. Tan and Parcasio headed their respective delegations during the first tripartite meeting in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in November last year.

The OPAPP in a press statement on February 12 said the OIC General Secretariat “sent a communiqué to the Philippine consulate general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia regarding the holding of the second session of the tripartite meeting in the Be_ikta_ (Besiktas) district of Istanbul.  Dated 31 January, the communiqué set the tripartite meeting for February 14-16 at the OIC Research Center for Islamic History, Arts, and Culture (IRCICA) in Be_ikta_ (Besiktas).”

The press statement noted that the choice of IRCICA as the venue “underscores commitment to global understanding.”

As the OIC's cultural arm, the IRCICA “aims to generate conditions for worldwide cooperation in order to eliminate prejudices against Islam and Islamic nations, project their positive image, provide world opinion on their role and place in world civilization, and promote a better understanding and a dialogue between Muslims and other peoples of the world.”

The Jeddah talks in November 2007 led to the creation of five joint working groups tasked to review the implementation of the 1996 peace pact. The five 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 met in Manila on January 3 to 7 and were supposed to report to the tripartite meeting with the OIC on January 14 but this did not push through, until this Istanbul meet.

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.

The review of the 1996 peace pact’s implementation was proposed in May 2006 by a Fact-Finding Mission sent by the 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.

The OPAPP press statement said among the members of the Philippine delegation to the Istanbul meeting are officials from the ARMM, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“They also include ARMM Executive Secretary Oscar Sampulna, ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) Speaker Paisalin Tago, DENR Undersecretary Manuel Gerochi, OPAPP Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Usec. Nabil Tan, and DepEd Usec. Manaros Boransing.” (MindaNews)