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REPORTS OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL

TO THE TWENTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC
CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS

   KUALA LUMPUR. MALAYSIA

   24-27 RABIUL AWAL 1421 H, 27-30 JUNE 2000

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
ON THE QUESTION OF MUSLIMS IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES

1. Following a protracted struggle spanning about four decades the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a peace agreement on 2 September 1996 with the government of the Philippines and the participation of the Ministerial Committee of Six entrusted with following up this question as well as the OIC Secretary General, thanks to the efforts exerted by the Member States of the OIC Committee of Six, in collaboration with H.E. the President of Indonesia and H.E. the President of the Philippines (at that time) and Professor Nour Misuari, Chairman of the MNLF. The agreement provided, inter alia, for the implementation, by the Government of the Philippines, of the infrastructure projects in Southern Philippines as being the main approach towards establishing peace in the region prior to the establishment of the Autonomous Region following a plebiscite which was planned to be conducted within three years of the date of signing the agreement, i.e. September 1999.

2. The Peace Agreement also provided for establishing the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and its Consultative Assembly (CA) under the leadership of Professor Nur Misurari, leader of the MNF. The Council was charged with coordinating the development programmes and projects, to be executed by the Government of the Philippines in 14 provinces and 9 cities in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, i.e. in the provinces and cities which have been declared as an area for peace and development; the area earmarked for the Autonomous Region. 

3. However, the MNLF complained of the slow pace of the Government of the Philippines in implementing the Peace Agreement. The government has neither implemented the obligations stipulated in the agreement, nor extended the necessary facilities to the MNLF leadership which has been entrusted with the responsibility for the economic rehabilitation of the region in the Southern Philippines which is under the MNLF charge. Most important of these obligations is provision of the approved budget to carry out development projects in the region. The Government of the Philippines has allocated 41.9 billion Pesos for development projects. However, only 2 billion pesos have been disbursed, in addition to non-rehabilitation of the airport, building roads or the necessary housing areas, as promised.

4. The achievement of comprehensive development and establishment of peace in Southern Philippines necessitate the effective and constructive participation of both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF in accordance with the approved plans. The MNLF cannot carry out the task entrusted to it without the provision, by the government, of the necessary budget for development projects - this being an essential part of the Peace Agreement signed between the two parties. 

5. The formation of government bodies to carry out projects in the Southern Philippines in the absence of government cooperation with the Council for Peace and Development, entrusted with development, security and peace as well as making preparations for establishing autonomy, unilaterally, by the Government , in 14 areas, constitute one of the means to convince public opinion in the South that the Council has done nothing to the inhabitants of the Autonomous Region. This will have a bad impact on the plebiscite on autonomy.

6. The Government of the Philippines is currently using the economic weapon against the Council for Peace and Development which acts as provisional autonomy (in the 14 areas). This means exposing the MNLF to failure in the regional plebiscite aimed at removing it from administering the regions specified by the Peace Agreement signed on 2 September 1996. This will lead to the collapse of the agreement and place the Muslims into difficult and complicated conditions. 

7. In view of the gravity of the prevailing situation in the Southern Philippines, H.E. Nur Misuary, Governor of the Autonomous Region and MNLF Chairman, submitted a memorandum in September 1999 to President Strada of the Philippines requesting postponement of the plebiscite on the government of the Autonomous Region to September 2003 in order to ensure implementation of the items of the Peace Agreement and establish the best conditions for development and stability for the sake of avoiding the collapse of the Peace Agreement. He also requested to extend the tenure of the Council for Peace and Development to the year 2003.

8. The MNLF had adopted a decision to pursue its mission in Southern Philippines despite the difficulties and impediments aimed at saving the area from further tension and the return of the cycle of violence. It requested the central government to respond to these requirements and the sincere aspirations of more than ten million people of Mindanao. The Front requested the OIC Member States to extend all possible assistance to achieve the economic and social advance of the region.

9. In support of the MNLF position, the OIC General Secretariat has continued to urge the parties concerned with the question of the Muslims in Southern Philippines, including the Government of the Philippines, to honour their commitments and obligations. It supported the MNLF request to postpone the plebiscite to the year 2003, and the provision of necessary funds by the Government in order to enable the MNLF to properly carry out its mission of restoring peace and achieving development in Southern Philippines. 

10. The 26th ICFM, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 15 to 18 Rabieul Awal 1420H (28 June - Ist July 1999) adopted Resolution No. 52/26-P on the Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines, expressing its appreciation of the important measures undertaken to fully implement the Agreement. It called on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF to preserve the gains realized as a result of signing the Peace Agreement on 2 September 1999. Operative para (13) of the resolution stipulates as follows: 

"Requests the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF to agree on the extension of Phase I of the Peace Agreement, and consequently to the postponement of the plebiscite, in order to ensure the fully implementation of all measures and policies as stipulated in para 1 and 2 of the Peace Agreement, including the accelerated implementation of development projects and programmes in the special Zone of Peace and Development"

Operative para (14) stipulates as follows:

"Requests the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to consider postponing the date of elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), so as to conform its implementation with the stipulation contained in para 2, 2a and 2b of the Peace Agreement".

11. The Ministerial Committee of Six entrusted with following up the implementation of the Peace Agreement, signed between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF on 2 September 1996, held a meeting on 29 June 1999, on the course of the 26th ICFM, under the Chairmanship of the Foreign Minister of Indonesia aimed at listening to the progress reports and the observations of both sides on the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

12. The representative of the Government of the Philippines delivered a statement in which he maintained that his government took measures to implement the agreement, especially through establishing peace and security in Southern Philippines. He reiterated the commitment of his government towards the implementation of the Peace Agreement; however he admitted that there had been a delay in finalizing phase I of the agreement due to compulsory reasons beyond the control of his government. 

13. The MNLF delegation, headed by Professor Nur Misuary, made a comprehensive presentation before the Committee in which he affirmed that the Government of the Republic o the Philippines had intended to postpone the implementation of the agreement and that it was not the first time that the government had intentionally impeded the implementation of the agreement. He urged the government of the Republic of the Philippines to fully comply with the provisions of the agreement in order to achieve comprehensive and durable peace in the region.

He also submitted to the Committee a report on the implementation of the agreement. 

14. The Ministerial Committee of Six expressed its satisfaction with the flexibility maintained by the representative of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, in particular the latter's readiness to extend phase I of the Peace Agreement for three years in order to fully implement it without further postponement.

15. The Secretary General received a message from the Foreign Ministers of the Philippines, dated 11 November 1999, referring to the Presidential Decree No.161, on 30 September 1999, providing for the postponement of the elections of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for one year ending on the second day of September 2000.

16. The Secretary General received a message on the postponement of the elections from Professor Nur Misuary, Chairman of the MNLF and President of the Council for Development of the Autonomous Region, dated 30 September 1999, stating that the period given by the Presidential Decree would not be sufficient to implement the development projects in Mindanao, according to paras 1 and 2 of the Peace Agreement signed between the two parties in 1996. He explained that the time-table made by the Government for implementing the peace process in Southern Philippines has specified the month of June 2000 to hold the plebiscite, and after three months elections of the Autonomous Region of Mindanao will be held in accordance with the decision on postponement of elections of the Autonomous Region to September 2000 as per Presidential Decree No. 161. This means that time will not be sufficient for implementing the development projects, as the decision of the Government of the Philippines proscribes the implementation of projects, several months before holding the plebiscite. In view of the inclination of the Government of the Philippines to delay release of funds for six months, there will not be adequate time to implement development projects during the short remaining time until next September. 

17. The MNLF maintains that the one year extension given by the Government of the Philippines for implementing phase I of the Peace Agreement without releasing funds allocated to development projects is but an excuse to cancel the peace process. The Government of the Philippines can extend the date of the plebiscite to the year 2003 and give more time to the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development to implement the approved projects.

18. The MNLF requested the OIC Member States to double their assistance to the Muslims of Southern Philippines in order to achieve the economic advancement of the area which is suffering deprivation over many years. It called on the OIC Specialized and Affiliated Organs to participate in the development process, foremost of which is the IDB. The MNLF also requested the parties concerned with the question of Muslims in Southern Philippines to urge the Government of the Philippines to postpone the plebiscite to the year 2003 to enable the former to properly carry out its mission for the sake of promoting peace and development in the south of the Country. 

19. The Secretary General continued his contacts for the sake of implementation of the Peace Agreement by encouraging the two parties to promote understanding and cooperation between themselves. He reiterated his support to the efforts aiming at establishing peace in the Southern Philippines in the context of respecting the sovereignty of the State of the Philippines. He called on the two parties to continue to facilitate the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and urged the Government of the Philippines to take the necessary measures in this regard.

20. The Secretary General addressed a message on 27 December 1999 to H.E. the Foreign Minister of the Philippines requesting reconsideration of the date of postponing the elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for three more years until September 2003 in order to ensure the best conditions for development and stability in Southern Philippines. 

21. The Secretary General expressed his confidence that the Government of the Philippines would positively respond to the MNLF's just request, and extend the plebiscite to the year 2000, as well as to engage all the other Islamic organizations active in the Southern Philippines in the process of dialogue and development, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

22. The Secretary General submits this report to the 27th ICFM for appropriate action.

 

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O The MNLF-MILF Merger O Speeches of Chairman Misuari O The August 14, 2001 ARMM Plebiscite
 The November 26, 2001 ARMM Election
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