DAVAO CITY: A top-level delegation from the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to set aside their differences and support the peace process.
OIC Secretary-General Iyad bin Ameen Madani arrived in the country last Thursday and met with key officials of the Philippine government before flying here to preside over the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum (BCF), where he separately met with leaders of the MNLF and MILF. The MNLF enjoys observer status in the OIC.
The BCF is an OIC-sponsored body that was formed in 2014 to harmonize and settle differences between the MILF and the MNLF.
The OIC played a key role in the forging of the Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF. It had expressed its full support to the peace process with the MILF.
Madani is in the country to rally support for the peace agreement between the Manila and the MILF. His visit is the first to be made by an OIC secretary-general to Mindanao.
Madani on Monday called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacanang where he expressed full support and commitment to full fruition of the peace process.
“We are pleased to acknowledge this expression of support,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters.
In a statement, the OIC–formerly the Organization of Islamic Conference–said it was encouraged by the “sincere desire” and the “serious effort” displayed by both the MILF and MNLF and the Philippine government in the peace process.
“We feel on both sides the sincere desire, and the serious effort to reach a conclusion [in the peace process]. We are optimistic. We are supportive,” Madani said.
He announced that the OIC will invite representatives of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum to the 42nd OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kuwait on May 27.
In a news conference at the Senate, also on Monday, the OIC official expressed hope that the bloody Mamasapano clash would not affect the peace process.
“In a process like this, we all have to expect some hiccups as unfortunate as this tragedy might be and we fully agree that it should not distract us,” Madani said.
He added, “We think it is an unfortunate event. We have expressed condolences to all those who lost their lives and to their families.”
The matter was not discussed during the meeting.
Senate President Franklin Drilon noted that there was no occasion to discuss the Mamasapano incident during their meeting “because this is a completely a separate issue from our desire to put in place the BBL [Bangsamoro Basic Law].”
When asked if Madani’s meeting with lawmakers is putting pressure on Congress to pass the BBL, Drilon said it should not be seen that way.
“[His visit to the Philippines] is part of his itinerary. He came from Malaysia to get inputs from the Malaysian government, which, as you know, played a critical role in the peace process,” he added.
“[Madani’s] presence is certainly a manifestation of their support, and he has expressly said that they are supportive of the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro] and of the passage of the BBL. He realizes that it is a very critical process so their hope is that we as a people will see through the passage of the BBL and the success or the completion of the peace process. The passage of the BBL is part of that,” Drilon said.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA