Indonesia tripartite review meeting for 1996 FPA postponed–Deles

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/14 September)– The tripartite review meeting for the 1996 final peace agreement (FPA) between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Monday (Sept. 16) has been cancelled after Nur Misuari, the group’s founding chair, requested for a postponement due to the standoff in Zamboanga City, a senior government official said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles said the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), received Friday a Note Verbale from the Indonesian embassy concerning the postponement of the 5th Session of the GPH-OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation)-MNLF Tripartite Implementation Review Meeting.

“The formal communication conveyed a copy of the Note Verbal dated 12 September 2013, addressed to the OIC Secretary General from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, which serves as the chair of the OIC Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP),” Deles said in a statement.

The Note Verbale to OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu relayed the receipt of Indonesia of a letter from the chair of the MNLF Secretariat requesting for the postponement of the tripartite meeting to a later date, preferably in the 1st week of October 2013, she added.

Monday’s tripartite meeting was to take place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Deles said the request was made by MNLF Chair Nur Misuari due to the “situation in Zamboanga City.”

The standoff in Zamboanga entered its sixth day Saturday, leaving 18 persons dead– three from the Philippine National Police, two each from the military and civilians and 11 from the MNLF—as of Friday noon, according to AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Jr.

Some 200 MNLF forces under Commander Habier Malik laid siege on four later six barangays out of the city’s 98, at around 1:45 a.m. Monday. The MNLF said they came to the city to stage a peace rally and to hoist the MNLF flag at City Hall in pursuit of Misuari’s alleged declaration of independence.

In her Facebook page, Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said that a total of 7,779 families or 39,260 individuals have been displaced by the fighting between government and MNLF forces as of 11 a.m. Saturday.

Salazar said that 4,716 families or 25,917 individuals have sought refuge at the city’s grandstand while 3,060 families or 13,343 individuals were sheltered in 25 satellite evacuation centers.

Deles said the DFA has conveyed to the Indonesian embassy that the government will respect the decision of the OIC-PCSP chair canceling Monday’s tripartite review meeting.

“We consider it unfortunate that this opportunity for a face-to-face meeting that had been set precisely to discuss the status of the tripartite implementation review and the future of this peace process is yet again delayed,” Deles said.

Deles said the government has conveyed to the chair of the OIC-PCSP its concern that this meeting not be indefinitely postponed.

Indonesia’s Note Verbale to the OIC Secretary General stated that the new schedule and venue of the tripartite meeting will be communicated following consultations with both parties, Deles said.

“We remain committed to our continuing engagement with the MNLF for the full implementation of the 1996 final peace agreement, in pursuit of just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” Deles said.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, government chief negotiator in talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said on Tuesday as the GPH-MILF talks resumed in Kuala Lumpur that the tripartite review meeting seeks to thresh out the remaining issues pertaining to the implementation of the 1996 FPA between the government and the MNLF.

“The meeting aims to identify the next steps to be taken that will complete the review process as set out in the previous tripartite meetings,” Ferrer said. (MindaNews)