MNLF to send 20-person delegation to Jeddah meeting in February

The meeting is intended to review the implementation of the provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement signed on September 2, 1996, and recommend proposals on how to remove the obstacles to implementation and what mechanism to set up to effectively monitor its implementation.

Haji Gapul Hadjirul, MNLF Central Committee National Coordinator said not one member from the “MNLF Council of 15” who ousted Misuari as chair in April 2001, is part of the delegation.

“Prof. Misuari told me that the OIC will recognize only those he (Misuari) endorsed to join the delegation,” he said.

“At first, the OIC asked for 15 delegates only. However, Chairman Mur asked for five more and it was granted,” Hadjirul said.

Hadjirul said that the Council of 15 was used by the Philippine government in its “divide and rule” tactic to weaken the MNLF.

“If the government will take them to Jeddah, they will be there to represent the government not the MNLF,” he said.

Misuari received an official invitation from the OIC on October 10, this year.

“The MNLF is still solid, still being recognized by international community as the sole representative of the Bangsamoro people,” he stressed, adding, “we still recognize Misuari as our leader.”

The OIC facilitated the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MNLF that led to the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 “Final Peace Agerement.”

“Not all that was stipulated in the agreement was implemented by the government,” Hadjirul lamented.

“It was only the integration of the MNLF combatants to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police which was almost completed, among the provisions in the agreement,” he explained.

Hadjirul said the MNLF will hold a series of consultations in the MNLF camps all over Mindanao to hear the sentiments of the Bangsamoro people.

“We have already conducted consultations in three municipalities of Maguindanao and also in Lanao, and soon in Koronadal, Davao, Cagayan de Oro,  Sulu and Sultan Kudarat,” he said. “Whatever recommendations drawn from the Moro people will be presented before the GRP and the OIC during the meeting” he said.

Misuari, charged with rebellion in 2001, has been detained since January 2002. His first detention was the bungalow intended for ousted President Joseph Estrada in Fort Santo Domingo, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where he stayed there until he was brought to St. Luke’s Hospital in early January this year. From St. Luke’s, Misuari asked and was granted by the court, permission to stay in a house near St. Luke’s.

A fact-finding team from the OIC who came to the Philippines and went around Mindanao in May, appealed to the Philippine Government to release Misuari citing his “vital role in achieving peace in Mindanao.”

The OIC also recommended a tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 peace pact to be held in Jeddah supposedly in July, preferably with Misuari around. The schedule was reset to November then December and now in February.