The date? March 17 to 18. The venue? Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, however, says government did not give in to Malik’s demand. He told MindaNews the date for the preparatory tripartite meeting had been set “three weeks ago” when Ambassador Rafael Seguis met with the Secretary-General of the OIC in Jeddah.
Dureza said the OIC agreed to their request to convene the Tripartite Meeting after the May elections.
The MNLF, supposedly one of the parties of the “tripartite” meeting, apparently knew nothing about this alleged agreement, unless the Philippine government was dealing with “another MNLF.” Apparently, too, only some officials in the Philippine government knew about the supposed agreement.
Santos, Dureza’s undersecretary, and Dolorfino apparently knew nothing about the supposed March 17 to 18 “preparatory meeting” because if they did, the “hostage-but- don’t-call- us-hostage” drama would not have happened. The two would have told Malik the schedule of the meeting.
If Malik had known about March 17 and 18, he would have had no reason to hold Santos and company for two nights.
In Jeddah, OIC Secretary-General, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, received Seguis, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Philippines and his delegation, in his office on January 22, a January 23 press statement from the OIC reported.
The press statement noted that the Philippine delegation gave “a brief presentation on the progress made” in implementing the Sept. 2, 1996 Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF, as well as on the developments of the situation in Southern Philippines” “The meeting addressed also the ongoing preparations to hold a tripartite meeting between the OIC, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front in Jeddah in order to make a comprehensive review of the Peace Agreement, to overcome the obstacles hindering the full implementation of this agreement, and to find appropriate solutions to these obstacles,” the statement read.
While mention was made about “ongoing preparations” for the holding of a tripartite meeting, no mention was made about a March 17-18 “preparatory” meeting.
“For his part, the Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for the information provided by the head of the delegation of the Philippines and stressed the importance of fully implementing the provisions of the agreement by the parties concerned in Southern Philippines. He reaffirmed his willingness to pursue his efforts to find radical and fair solutions to the problems of Muslims in Southern Philippines and to achieve peace, stability and development in the region,” the OIC press statement read.
On January 24 or two days after Seguis’ meeting with the OIC Secretary-General, MindaNews asked Dureza about the tripartite meeting on February 6 to 8 but his answer was, “If it’s the tripartite meeting, it’s no go pa.”
He said nothing about a “preparatory tripartite meeting” scheduled on March 17 and 18.
In May last year, Ambassador Sayed El-Masry, adviser to OIC Secretary-General and head of delegation of the OIC Field Visit to Southern Philippines, proposed the convening of a Tripartite Meeting in Jeddah in July, preferably with MNLF chair Nur Misuari, to “work out an implementation program” to carry out the provisions that have not been implemented “or have been changed in a way.”
Misuari has been in detention for alleged rebellion, since January 2002 in the Philippines. Between November 2001 and the first week of January 2002, he was detained in Sabah, Malaysia for alleged illegal entry.
The OIC had repeatedly called for his release.
“The parties must sit together,” El-Masry said.
“For peace to really be permanent, it has to be just. One of the parties thinks the agreement has not been implemented. The purpose of proposing a meeting in Jeddah is for this, (for the parties) to sit together with open hearts and minds and only after that can we reach an assessment of the situation,” El-Masry said, adding that until now, there is “wide gap” between the reports of the parties on the implementation of the peace pact. “We are trying to narrow the gap,” he said.