| April 22, 2014
KOTA KINABALU: The OIC has allegedly rejected the Bangsamoro peace pact between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiated by Malaysia.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the MILF was signed on March 27 after 17 years of negotiations brokered by Malaysia.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) formed in 1969, only recognises the Tripoli accord signed in 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) helmed by Nur Misuari.
The OIC is the largest inter-governmental Muslim organisation in the world.
It professes to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world’ and is committed to safeguarding and protecting the interests of the Muslim world “in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
But to the OIC, the inking of the high profile peace negotiations in Malacanang last month and witnessed by Prime Minister Najib Razak alongside Philippines President Benigno Aquino, is nothing more than a scrap of paper.
According to a MNLF official, the OIC recognized “no other [peace] agreement” but the “legal and binding” Tripoli accord signed on September 2, 1996 by the Ramos administration and MNLF.
Speaking to Manila Times, the official, who requested confidentiality for security reasons, said that he was quoting from a letter sent to the MNLF by Iyad Amin Madani, the 67-year-old OIC secretary-general, who had refused an invitation from the Philippine government to witness the signing of the CAB in Malacanag Palace last month.
The MNLF official said they viewed President Benigno Aquino’s endorsement of the Bangsamoro peace pact as “a provocative act that [has created] another serious conflict for the people of Mindanao,” in Muslim majority southern Philippines.
The report also quoted the official as saying that OIC’s leaders had reaffirmed during a meeting in Davao City last Saturday that the only peace deal that mattered to them was the Tripoli Agreement, which had allowed for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The MNLF official said the organization’s leaders noted that Aquino had promised but failed to resolve 42 “defective” provisions of Republic Act 9054 that amended RA 6734, which created the ARMM.
The OIC has declared the “expeditious” signing of the CAB and the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would create the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) as “tantamount to violation” of the1996 peace pact, the official added.
But Manila is unfazed and sees no reason to fear the outcome of the peace deal despite reports of the involvement of MILF fighters in kidnapping activities in the south.
In a recent press briefing Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. urged 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 President has 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,” Coloma reportedly said.
Earlier chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer had reportedly reminded that in the last three years, there had been nearly 100 cases of abductions of children as young as one year old, students, businessmen, foreigners, journalists, senior citizens, government officials and teachers.
“Many of these kidnap victims are still in captivity while some have been killed,” she noted.
Her statement came on the heel of the latest abduction in Sabah.
On April 2, a Chinese national holidaying in Semporna was kidnapped after seven armed masked men stormed the Singamata Reef Resort at 10.30pm. Also abducted kidnapped was a Filipino staff Marcy Darawan 40.
Philippines security said Gao Hua Yuan, 29, from Shanghai was being held captive by Abu Sayyaf militants in southern Philippines.
Home Minister Zahid Hamidi had revealed that a ransom demand had been received and the kidnappers wanted RM36.4 million for Gao’s release.
This is not the first abduction. Abu Sayyaf militants were also allegedly involved in last November’s kidnapping and abductions in Sipadan in 2000.
Sabah’s porous borders, its personal and historical ties with southern Philippines has made security a big issue.
According to Kalabakan MP Ghapur Salleh, security was an issue that had plagued Sabah since 1979, alluding to illegal immigrants and the civil unrest in nearby southern Philippines.
“But Kuala Lumpur only woke up to it after the Lahad Datu (Sulu) incursion in February 2013,” he said.
The decades long civil unrest in Mindanao has seen thousands of Filipinos seeking comfort and safety in Sabah in the past.
Sources here, meanwhile, have said that Putrajaya’s hand in the peace deal in Mindanao would see a backlash.
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