OIC wants GRP-MNLF-OIC meet; expresses regrets on aborted MOA-AD

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 May) – The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)’s foreign ministers have called on the Secretary General to convene another round of the Tripartite Meeting among the Philippine government (GRP), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and OIC to review “the progress of the work of the joint legal committee and the resolution of the difficulties impeding the full implementation of the peace process” as it also expressed regrets over the “failure to sign the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) of the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF.

The OIC also urged both the MNLF and MILF  groups to “unite their efforts for the peace and development of the Bangsamoro people.”

The call, expression of regrets and prodding are contained in  Resolution No. 2/37-MM “On Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines,” as the Moro issue has been repeatedly described in OIC meetings, passed during the 37th Session of the  Council of Foreign Ministers in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on May 18 to 20.

The resolution involved 12 points, six of them focused on the GRP-MNLF peace process, two on the GRP-MILF:  one on the unity of the two groups.

On the GRP-MNLF, the resolution renewed its support for the September 2, 1996 peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MNLF;  called on the government and MNLF to “preserve the gains achieved since the signing of the Peace Agreement” and encouraged both sides to continue their efforts in finding further solution for their differences to ensure the full implementation of the 1996  pact. The resolution also called for the “cessation of all ongoing military operations in (Mindanao) to enable relief agencies to assess the quantity of assistance required by those in need.”

The resolution also renewed the mandate of the OIC Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) and the Secretary-General to continue to make the necessary contacts with the GRP and the MNLF with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement.

When the OIC took cognizance of the Moro issue in the early 1970s,  it was first handled by a Committee of Four which was later expanded to six then headed by Indonesia, expanded to become the Committee of the Eight with the inclusion of  Malaysia and Brueni in 2000,  expanded to 11 by 2006, the 10th anniversary of the 1996 peace pact.

The resolution also welcomed the “progress made at the sessions of the tripartite meeting between the OIC, the GRP and MNLF with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the Final Peace Agreement” as it urged the parties “to work together in order to finalize the work of the joint legal  committee, in particular the contentious issues and find ways to resolve the difficulties stalling the full implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement.”

It also welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Tripoli, Libya, 20 April 2010 as a step forward in that direction and called on the Secretary-General to “convene another round of the Tripartite Meeting between the GRP, the MNLF, and the OIC in order to review the progress of the work of the joint legal committee and the resolution of the difficulties impeding the full implementation of the peace process.”

On the GRP-MILF, the resolution expressed “regrets at the failure to sign the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was already initialed by the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Malaysia on 5 August 2008.”

The government and MILF peace panels were supposed to have formally signed the MOA-AD on August 5, 2008 but the  Philippine Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order late afternoon of August 4, preventing the government peace panel chair, Rodolfo Garcia, then already in Kuala Lumpur, from signing the document.  The Philippine government dissolved its peace panel in early September 2008. The Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional for alleged lack of consultations, among others.

The talks resumed only a year later, in July 2009, following the government’s issuance of a suspension of offensive military operations and the MILF’s issuance of a suspension of military action.  Both panels last year hoped to forge a peace agreement before the end of the Arroyo administration at noon of June 30 this year.

But given the limited time left, the two panels hoped to sign an interim agreement before June 30.

The OIC resolution welcomed the resumption of  negotiations between the government and the MILF and welcomed as well the agreement to establish an international contact group (ICG), invitation to membership of which has been extended to Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Japan.

The resolution also urged the two sides “to continue negotiating until they reach a peace agreement that would cover all issues with a view to achieving stability and peace in Southern Philippines.”

On the MNLF and MILF, the resolution urged both groups to “unite their efforts for the peace and development of the Bangsamoro people”  as it took note of the content of the Secretary General’s additional report on the meeting held between the two Fronts.

The resolution also welcomed their principle agreement to establish a mechanism for consultation and coordination between them, and expressed thanks to the Secretary General for his fruitful efforts in this regard.

The resolution also appealed to the Philippine government to “undertake the early resolution of the reported environmental problems resulting from the failure on the part of power and electricity plants in Lake Lanao and its surroundings to observe environmental standards, which has had a serious and adverse impact on the environment, which affected the local population’s health and economic and social conditions.”

It also urged OIC member-states, subsidiary organs, and specialized and affiliated institutions as well as benevolent Islamic organizations in the Member States to “increase their medical, humanitarian, economic, financial, and technical assistance for the development of Southern Philippines with a view to accelerating the pace of social and economic development and urges the Government of the Philippines to agree to the General Secretariat’s request to send a joint delegation of the OIC, IDB and other Islamic NGOs willing to offer assistance in order to assess the needs.”

The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to follow up the implementation of this resolution and to report thereon to the Thirty-eighth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers. (MindaNews)

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