OIC Ass’t Sec-Gen meets with gov’t, MILF peace panels

Historian Rudy Rodil of Iligan City, vice chair of the government peace panel, told MindaNews the meeting with Ambassador Ata El Mannane Bakhit, Assistant Secretary-General for International Affairs was “historic” in that it was the first time the OIC met with the two panels.

In the OIC, it is the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from whom the MILF broke away in the late 1970s, that holds an observer status. Since 2001, however, by virtue of an agreement between the then “Executive Committee” of the MNLF and the MILF under then peace panel chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (he succeeded as MILF chair since the death of Salamat Hashim in July 2003), the MILF had been joining the MNLF  delegations during the International Conference of Foreign Ministers and the OIC Leaders’ Summit.

Facilitated by Malaysia, which has been brokering the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF since early 2001, Bakhit met with the panels separately for about an hour each and jointly for another hour.

Bakhit asked updates on the ongoing peace talks, expressed hope that the MNLF and MILF work together for the Bangsamoro people and that the peace agreement with the MILF can build on the gains of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.

An OIC Mission that came to Mindanao in May to look into the implementation of the nearly 10-year old peace pact with the MNLF had said in a joint communique with the Philippine government on May 22 that “the gains in the GRP-MNLF peace agreement and the GRP-MILF cooperation now taking place be made to converge to maximize and bring comprehensive peace and development for the Bangsamoro people.”

The government peace panel was represented by chair Silvestre Afable and Rodil while the MILF peace panel was represented by chair Mohagher Iqbal and Datu Michael Mastura.

President Arroyo, who is presently in Libya, again lobbied for the government’s bid to hold an observer status in the 57-nation OIC.  In a statement posted in the Office of the Press Secretary’s website, Ms Arroyo said Libya is a “keen supporter” of the Philippine bid for observer status.

“We need to seek a presence fort he Philippines in the corridors of decision-making in the Islamic world, as we forge peace, interfaith solidarity and harmony in Mindanao and across our Muslim-dominated South and Southwestern frontiers,” Ms Arroyo said.

Several Moro groups, however, are opposing the government’s bid.

Fatmawati Salapuddin, secretary-general of the Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum, had earlier said that having given no justice to the Moro people, the Philippines “has no right to represent us in the OIC.”

Ren Jalaluddin Ropeta, vice chair of the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance (MCPA) said the government’s application for observer status in the OIC “should by all means be denied by the OIC,” claiming the Arroyo administration’s “war policy in Mindanao which has wreaked terror and caused thousands of human rights violations against the Moro people.”

“As the number one violator of the human rights of the Moro people, the (Philippine government)n does not deserve to be recognized as an observer to the OIC. It will be a mockery to justice if that happens,” Ropeta said.   

The first peace agreement with the MNLF was signed in Tripoli, Libya, in December 1976. The first formal peace negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration was held in June 2001 in Tripoli, Libya. (MindaNews)

 

 

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