MNLF, MILF meet in Jeddah as GPH, MILF meet in KL

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/06 December)  — While the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels are meeting here,  representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front  (MNLF) and the MILF are in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for a two-day meeting initiated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The meeting started Tuesday with the MNLF represented by Nur Misuari; lawyer Randoph Parcasio who was Misuari’s Executive Secretary when the former was ARMM Governor,  and Ustadz Abdulmahaimin Abubakar while the MILF is represented by MILF peace panel member Robert Maulana Alonto, Salim Sahaji and Mashor Haqani.

The meeting is in line with several OIC resolutions calling on the leadership of both the MNLF and MILF to continue their efforts at “joint coordination and collaboration to achieve peace and development for the Bangsamoro People,”  Parcasio said.

The latest OIC resolution on the MNLF-MILF “joint coordination and collaboration” is Resolution No. 28-MM on the “Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines” passed during the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (Session of Peace, Cooperation and Development) in Astana, Kazakhstan  on June 28-30 this year.

The OIC resolution urged the leadership of the MNLF and MILF “to continue their efforts at joint coordination and collaboration to achieve peace and development for the Bangsamoro people, based on the agreement signed between them on the margins of the thirty-seventh session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, and commends the efforts of the Secretary General in this regards and invites him to continue these efforts.”

The MNLF holds an observer status in the OIC. But since 2001, the MILF has been sending representatives to the OIC meetings with the MNLF delegation following the creation of the Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference, as agreed upon in the MNLF-MILF agreement on general framework for unity on August 7, 2001.
The agreement was signed by Hatimil Hassan, then interim chair of the MNLF Central Committee and Murad, then vice chair of the MILF Central Committee. Murad in 2001 was alsot the Vice Chair for Military Affairs of the MILF and chair of the MILF peace panel.

This week’s meeting in Jeddah was on invitation of the OIC Secretary-General.

The MNLF signed a final peace agreement with the government on September 2, 1996 but 15 years later, it continues to complain about the alleged non-implementation of some provisions of the peace agreement. A Tripartite Review involving the MNLF, the government and the talks facilitator, Indonesia, representing the OIC, since the OIC sent a committee on the 10th anniversary of the agreement in 2006, to look into the implementation of the peace pact.

The MILF on the other hand has been negotiating peace with the government since 1997. The two panels have just ended Day Two of their three-day peace talks here with only the closing session and the signing of a joint statement scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Both fronts claim to represent the Bangsamoro people and are navigating around the same territory , with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the core area for their desired genuine autonomy.

Amina Rasul, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) said “the window of opportunity for a just peace today is open. While it is open, for the sake of the Bangsamoro, I hope and pray that the leaders of the MNLF and the MILF will find their way to cooperation for the attainment of our common goal: peace, development and genuine autonomy for Muslim Mindanao.”

The Bishops-Ulama Conference in a statement said “the unity of the MNLF and MILF is indispensable as a clear sign of legitimate Bangsamoro aspirations.”

Guiamel Alim, member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) said his group and other Bangsamoro-led NGOs “support in unequivocal terms the ongoing unity meeting of the MILF and MNLF in Jeddah. We pray for the success of such efforts in the name of peace.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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