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By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News
(SDN) — APPARENTLY, the Mindanao peace process is back in the sight of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The OIC, comprised of 57 Muslim and a few non-Muslim countries, is the voice of the “Ummah,” or the global Islamic community estimated at 1.6-billion strong.
Barring any unforeseen hitch, a three-man team sent by OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen will be in Manila by Saturday, January 25. Or, Sunday, January 26, depending on the final arrangements with the GPH.
News reports in November 2019 spoke of a delegation from the OIC scheduled to visit the Philippines, with the agenda the Mindanao peace process, notably between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Over this week, SDN — Science and Digital News learned from multiple sources, including from a foreign embassy staff, that a team from the OIC was indeed coming to the Philippines this month.
Another source — a Filipino diplomat who is familiar with the GPH and MNLF/MILF peace process, said the three-man OIC team will be arriving in Manila on Saturday.
It was learned from an equally highly reliable source that the OIC team is composed of Director for Muslim Minorities El Habib Bourane of the Department of Political Affairs of the OIC; Datuk Ibrahim bin Abdullah of Malaysia, the OIC secretary general’s Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Southern Philippines; and Adviser Dr. Hassan Ahmad Abedin, Muslim Minorities, Department of Political Affairs, OIC.
The sources said the three-man team is an exploratory one that may pave the way for a high-level delegation to Manila to be led by OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen.
Tentative schedule of the exploratory team is a meeting with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Also in the initial schedule is a meeting with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in Cotabato City.
Of course, a meeting with the MNLF, possibly in Davao City is part of the team’s schedule. It is not clear if all the different groups of the MNLF are included in the meeting.
Since the time of Tripoli Agreement of 1976 the pan-Islamic bloc has been deeply engaged in the MNLF peace negotiations through its Quadripartite Committee, then the Ministerial Committe Six, which later became the Ministerial Committee of Eight.
The Tripoli Agreement was implemented by the Final Peace Agreement ((FPA) of 1996. However, the MNLF had questioned the implementation, asserting that some provisions have yet to be implemented.
Under the leadership of Founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari, the MNLF called for a renegotiation of the FPA. (He won in 1996 as the regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM.)
No renegotiation, GPH replied, but agreed with a review.
This and other developments gave rise to the OIC’s Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP), which at first was chaired by Indonesia.
Years later, the chairmanship of the PCSP went to Egypt. Indonesia as facilitator was heavily involved with the GPH-MNLF peace talks for 20 years.
The MNLF’s gripes on the FPA’s implementation occasioned the formation of the tripartite review process (TRP) of the FPA involving GPH, MNLF, and OIC.
For the GPH-MILF peace talks that started in 1997, the OIC is one of the observers.
On the other hand, Malaysia, spending several millions of ringgit from its pocket, facilitated the GPH-MILF negotiations as third party. After 17 years the two peace partners signed on March 27, 2014 the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The BARMM abolished and replaced the ARMM. MILF Chairman Ahod “Al-Hajj Murad” Balawag Ebrahim is now head as interim chief minister of BARMM for a three-year transition.
In OIC ministerial conferences the Mindanao peace process is a regular content of its annual resolutions. (SDN)