Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Joint RP-MNLF body boosted to address peace pact issues

By Jeoffrey Maitem

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The government, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have widened the mandate of a group they formed to ensure full implementation of the 1996 peace pact.
The three parties ended their tripartite meeting in Istanbul Saturday. The meeting was organized to address MNLF complaints about the failings of the Philippine government in implementing the 1996 peace agreement.

Muslimin Sema, MNLF secretary general, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview Sunday, that both panels agreed that the Joint Working Groups (JWG), a body composed of government and MNLF representatives, would work on proposals to amend Republic Act 9054, the law expanding the coverage of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. ARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur, Shariff Kabunsuan and Marawi City.

"The government and MNLF reaffirmed their commitment to the primacy of the final peace agreement in order to provide congenial environment for its unhampered implementation. Experts may be invited to assist in the exercise of the JWG mandate," Sema said.

The JWG was created during the Jeddah round of the tripartite meeting in November 2007 to look into the MNLF's complaint that the government failed to implement many provisions of the agreement.

"The meeting in Turkey underscored the cardinal importance of social economic development but outlined such development is conditional on the creation of a climate of peace and security through confidence-building measures that include rehabilitation, relief, reconstruction and attending to the problems of displaced people. Both parties should jointly undertake these exercises within the framework of JWGs," Sema said.

Sema added that a progress report on the work of the JWG would be submitted by May 1 so it could be considered in the third session of the tripartite meeting scheduled for May 12-15 and transmitted to the 35th Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Kampala, Uganda.

The tripartite meeting was aimed at discussing issues concerning the implementation of the OIC-mediated 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF.

Among the provisions the government has allegedly failed to implement are the establishment of a unified special security force for the ARMM, the region's political system, and the MNLF's right of representation and participation in the national government and in all organs of the state.

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