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OIC secretary general to visit Manila to help in MILF peace process

OIC secretary general to visit Manila to help in MILF peace process
source: Inquirer Mindanao (Allan Nawal)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The secretary general of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be arriving in Manila to discuss with Philippine officials the issue of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the wake of the Mamasapano carnage.

Iyad Ameen Madani, who was the first editor in chief of the Saudi Gazette and served until 1999, would be flying to the Philippines after his three-day visit to Kuala Lumpur that started on Tuesday, Malaysia’s state-run news agency, Bernama, said.

While in the Malaysian capital, Madani will meet with ranking Malaysian officials including Prime Minister Najib Razak and will “seek Malaysia’s advice regarding the status of the peace agreement (in) the southern Philippines … brokered by Malaysia before proceeding with any further action.”

Bernama said he and Razak would discuss the “the unresolved issue, especially after the killing of 44 police commandos in an encounter with Moro rebels in Maguindanao on Jan 25.”

“Since the Malaysian prime minister spearheaded this (peace agreement), we want to listen to him on this and on the current status of the agreement, and where he sees a role for us,” Bernama quoted Madani in a report on the visit.

Malaysia has been acting as facilitator for the peace process between Manila and the MILF since 2001.

In the same interview, Madani acknowledged that the Mamasapano encounter has affected the peace process.

“We think the process has slowed down a little bit and that is why we are involving ourselves more actively, so that perhaps we can help the process move at the right speed,” he was further quoted as saying.

Other challenges

Madani also admitted that the peace process should hurdle other challenges.

“One is with the Philippine government. If there is already an agreement, they should live up to that commitment. Secondly, we would like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and MILF to look at things in a similar manner because if they go separate ways, it would certainly weaken the outcome,” he said.

But Madani also credited OIC efforts at bringing together various stakeholders in the peace process.

“We (OIC) have managed to bring them together and we have established the Bangsamoro forum, with representatives from both sides. That formula is producing fruit and they are closer to each other now,” he added.

In 2012, the OIC was granted “observer status” in the peace talks with the MILF after both the government and the MILF acknowledged its active involvement in the efforts to restore peace in the Philippine south.

It was also the OIC which brokered the 1996 agreement between the Ramos government and the Moro National Liberation Front. The peace agreement resulted in the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, a member of the MILF peace panel, had said then that the OIC could steer the peace talks in the right direction by taking a more active role, such as suggesting possible solutions to some issues.

The peace deal between the government of President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF was eventually signed although its resulting proposed law, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, has come under heavy scrutiny by lawmakers because of the Mamasapano carnage. SM

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