To the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is just a scrap of paper.
The OIC, formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference, is “the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents,” its website says.
According to an official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the OIC recognizes “no other [peace]agreement” but the “legal and binding” Tripoli accord signed on September 2, 1996 by the Ramos administration and the MNLF.
The official, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told The Manila Times that he was quoting from a letter sent to the MNLF by Iyad Bin Amin Madani, the OIC secretary general, who had refused an invitation from the Philippine government to witness the signing of the CAB in March this year.
Madani, 67, the OIC’s 10th secretary general, succeeded Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who in 2013 ended his term at the organization that was founded in 1969.
He heads an influential group that is “the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people[s]of the world,” according to the OIC website.
The MNLF official said the MNLF sees President Benigno Aquino 3rd signing the Bangsamoro pact as “a provocative act that [has created]another serious conflict for the people of Mindanao,” home in the South to the Philippines’ Muslim minority.
The official added that the organization’s leaders reaffirmed during a meeting in Davao City last Saturday that the only peace deal that matters to them is the Tripoli Agreement, which, for one, created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Also during the meeting, the MNLF official said, the organization’s leaders noted that President Aquino had promised but failed to resolve 42 “defective” provisions of Republic Act 9054 that amended RA 6734, which created the ARMM.
The “expeditious” signing of the CAB and the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would create the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is “tantamount to violation” of the1996 peace pact, the official added.
But despite reports on the involvement of MILF fighters in kidnapping activities in the south, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is no reason to fear the outcome of the peace deal between the government and the Muslim group.
In a press briefing, Coloma echoed the call of peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the MILF leadership to police its ranks and prevent members from aligning themselves with bandit groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.
“We remain focused on the objectives of the CAB, which is to be able to establish by 2016 the Bangsamoro Political Entity. If there are any efforts to derail that process, then both sides continue to be firmly committed to do what is needed in order to make sure that those efforts do not stand in the way of the ultimate objective,” the Palace official stressed.
Nine ASG members were killed during recent clashes with soldiers last week, among them Nur Espital who has been identified as a member of the MILF. Three other alleged MILF members were injured.
Ferrer said some MILF members are connected by affinity to Furuji Indama, the top leader of the ASG and one of the most wanted men in the country. Furuji is charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.
“In the last three years, there were nearly 100 cases of abductions of children as young as a year old, students, businessmen, foreigners, journalists, senior citizens, barangay officials, and teachers. Many of these kidnap victims are still in captivity while some have been killed,” she noted.
But Coloma gave assurances that the President remains committed to every word contained in the CAB that was signed last March 27 in Malacañang.
“On the part of the President, he made clear that we should not be bothered by fear and uncertainty. We should not allow fear or uncertainty to affect our resolve to bring about the fruition of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” the Palace official said.
What is important, he explained, is that both Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad have declared before the world that they will ensure the success of the peace deal.
With Joel M. Sy Egco