The Manila Bulletin
Edd K. Usman
October 14, 2014
The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday reaffirmed its continuing support for the Mindanao peace process, as it convened the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) meeting in Makati City.
At the meeting, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani conveyed this strong message to senior MNLF and MILF leaders to lay down the ground rules for the activation of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF).
Madani ascended to the OIC as the new head of its General Secretariat in January, 2014.
He dispatched to Manila his special envoy for peace for Southern Philippines, as it appears the pan-Islamic body is growing impatient over the slow progress of the June 12, 2014 agreement to activate and make the body operational.
His special envoy, Ambassador Sayyed Kaseem El-Masry, convened the meeting yesterday in Makati where the leaders of the two groups discussed issues surrounding the BCF.
In his opening remarks, he said Madani sent his greetings to the MNLF and MILF leaders present and through them the whole Bangsamoro people his heartfelt greetings and wishes on the celebration of Eid’l Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.
The OIC secretary general “asked me further to assure you that he and the entire OIC Membership will continue their engagement with the peace process in Mindanao,” said El-Masry.
Also present at the meeting was Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Mostafa. Egypt chairs the Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP), which handles the “Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines” for the OIC.
BROTHERHOOD AND RECONCILIATION
El-Masry recited two verses from the Holy Qur’an to stress Muslims’ duty to unite: “Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor; fear God, for God is strict in punishment.” Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 2.
Brotherhood and reconciliation (Surah Al-Hojourat, Verse 10), he said, is the “motto of Islam.” He again emphasized the vital need for the MNLF and the MILF to get their act together and move further the agreed “cooperation and coordination among themselves and to jointly address the concerns confronting the Bangsamoro people.”
Some of the MNLF leaders present were former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, Randolph Parcasio, Habib Mujahab Hashim, Alvarez Isnaji, Utto Salem Cutan; for the MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, Prof. Aboud Syed Lingga, Hadji Abdullah Camlian, and Jun Mantawil.
Parcasio and Sema thanked the OIC secretary general, welcoming his efforts to continue its support for peace in Mindanao and the Moro people.
The meeting went into a close-door mode after the opening ceremony in the morning.
El-Masry said that the secretary general instructed him and his delegation to come to Manila “to meet with you and offer whatever help is needed to move things.
TIME IS A PRECIOUS ASSET
“The most precious asset a human being has is time. We have already lost two precious months and so let us have a solemn pledge not to waste any more time,” he said, reiterating the two agenda items, such as the BCF’s activation ad operationalization and continuing to engage in dialogues.
He recalled that the 41st Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) called upon the secretary general to exert his effort to close the gap between the MNLF and MILF leaderships’ positions. It also urged him to call an urgent meeting of their leaders “in order to find a way for the two peace tracks to merge instead of colliding.”
El-Masry was referring the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of the MNLF and the Philippine government (GPH) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement (CAB) of the MILF and the GPH.
The OIC delegation also includes Charge d’Affaires Hassan Alabdein, of the OIC’s Department of Communities and Minorities, and Saidu Dodo.