Duterte names Misuari as Special Economic Envoy to OIC

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /14 December) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday named Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari as Special Economic Envoy on Islamic Affairs to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to “foster further lasting relationships with the leaders of the Islamic countries.”

“Brother Nur has occupied several positions in the past. Consider it as an honor for me to delegate you as special envoy of the government so that you can foster further lasting relationships with the leaders of the Islamic countries,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) quoted the President as telling Misuari during their meeting at the Matina Enclaves here on Friday night.

In this February 25, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari at Malacañan Palace, three days after the President swore into office the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority composed of representatives nominated by the Government, Moro Islamic LIberation Front and MNLF under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema. Presidential Photo

According to the OPAPP, Duterte said most of the OIC leaders “are friends of Nur.”

“It’s good that Allah has given you a longer life to see these things because I do not think that there is other Moro personality that could command the respect and trust of the OIC but only you. You are the only one who can bring the case to the OIC and get the results,” Duterte told Misuari.

“We are grateful,” the OPAPP quoted Misuari as responding to Duterte.

What the scope of work of a “special economic envoy on Islamic affairs” is has yet to be clarified. But Misuari is no stranger in the OIC, having represented the MNLF in the 57-country organization since the early 1970s. The MNLF was granted an observer status in the OIC in 1977.

He is attending the annual meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States in Burkina Faso in Western Africa on January 21 to 23, 2020, the OPAPP said.

The OPAPP also announced that the OIC leadership will visit the Philippines in February 2020.

The last time the OIC visited Mindanao was in April 2015 when OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani met with leaders of the MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Davao City, initially separately and later gathered them in one room to discuss, as the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum, on how best to move forward in harmonizing the tracks of the peace agreements they signed separately with the Philippine government.

Since then, the Bangsamoro basic law pushed for by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been passed and ratified by majority of the residents in the core territory.

On February 26, the ARMM turned over governance of the region to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) headed by MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, now interim Bangsamoro Chief Minister.

The BTA is the governing body of the BARMM until the first set of officials shall have been elected in May 2022 and sworn into office on June 30, 2022.

The MNLF faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema are represented in the BTA. Misuari declined to nominate members

Friday’s meeting was the first of the newly-established Peace Coordinating Committee (PCC) of the government and MNLF under Misuari to “pursue the implementation of the remaining commitments contained in the Tripartite Review Process (TRP) of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.”

The OPAPP reported that Duterte told PCC members: “at least before I step down, I want to see an enduring peace in Mindanao.”

The meeting was attended by MNLF Founding Chairman Nur Misuari and members of the MNLF PCC: Dr. Udtog Kawit and lawyers Joel Obar, Yaser Lumbos, Mohammad Ali Guro, Alongan Dimacaling and Atty. Arthur Lim represented by Atty. Ma. Victoria P. Lim-Florido.

The government’s PCC is led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez as chair Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo, National Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano, Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Undersecretary Arthur Tabaquero, Bangsamoro Transition Authority member Nabil Tan, and retired BGen. Buenaventura Pascual as members.

The OPAPP said Cabinet members also attended the meeting: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Undersecretary Ernesto Abella representing the Department of Foreign Affairs and Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon representing the Justice department.

Serving as advisers are former Executive Secretaries Eduardo Ermita and Ruben Torres, who played major roles in the crafting of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and who also attended the meeting.

The OPAPP said Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go also joined the team.

It added that based on the tripartite review of the government, MNLF and OIC on the implementation on the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, only two commitments have yet to be implemented: the establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund and the creation of the Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)