Philippines: OIC-GRP-MNLF Tripartite Meeting concludes by agreeing to form a framework for implementing the 1996 peace agreement

Report
from Organization of the Islamic Conference
Published on 13 Nov 2007
Jeddah, 13 November 2007. The tripartite meeting between the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) over the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement has concluded its activities on November 12, 2007 in Jeddah. In the final session, OIC Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu described the meeting as historical considering the results reached to move forward the peace process by establishing a framework to rejuvenate the implementation of the Agreement. In order to translate the peace process into reality through economic and social development, Ihsanoglu announced that upon his request the Islamic development Bank (IDB) has allocated $16 million for the reconstruction of Southern Philippines.

The Secretary General thanked the delegations of the GRP and the MNLF for what they have shown of commitment to the peace agreement and thanked the members of the newly expanded OIC Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) for the efforts exerted to help the two sides resolve their differences and preserve the gains achieved. He hoped that Prof. Nur Misuari, Chairman of MNLF, will be able to join in the next session to benefit from his contribution to this important process. Ihsanoglu reminded the meeting that the OIC Ministerial Council (ICFM) has twice appealed to the GRP to expedite the legal process against Misuari and see to his early release to enable him to participate in the Tripartite Meeting and to continue his constructive role in leading the Bangsamoro people.

The Head of the Philippine Government Delegation, Nabil Tan expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary General for the success of the meeting. The Head of the MNLF delegation, Randolph Percasio described the meeting as historical and considered it a positive step while thanking the OIC for its initiative and promising that the MNLF will do its duty in moving the peace forward.

As Chairman of the PCSP, Indonesian Ambassador Rezlan I. Jenie, commended the positive spirit of the meeting and read the final communiqué which announced the agreement to establish five joint working groups on the following topics:

1. Sharia and Judiciary.

2. Special regional security force and the unified command for the autonomous region in Mindanao.

3. Natural resources and economic development issues.

4. Political system and representation.

5. Education.

The working groups shall have the mandate to review implementation of the 1996 final peace agreement in their respective assigned topics and provide recommendations to move the implementation of the peace agreement forward. Each working group will be composed of three experts from both the GRP and the MNLF. The meetings of the working groups will be attended by representatives from the Members of the OIC PCSP as facilitators.

Each joint working group is expected to submit its first progress reports to the tripartite meeting through the OIC by January 10, 2008. The report will be considered at the next tripartite meeting to be convened on January 14, 2008 in a place to be decided later.

At the end of the meeting, OIC Assistant Secretary General for international and humanitarian affairs, Ambassador Atta Al-Manan Bakhit and Ambassador Sayed Qasim El-Masry, OIC Secretary General special envoy for peace in southern Philippines and the heads of the GRP and MNLF delegations held a joint press conference.