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THE 28th ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
BAMAKO, REPUBLIC OF MALI
25-29 JUNE 2001

The opening ceremony of the conference with the Prime Minister of Mali delivering the opening address in behalf of the President



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Excerpts from

 

THE FINAL COMMUNIQUE

 

The issue of Muslims in Southern Philippines:

 

79.       The Conference adopted the recommendations of this Session’s fringe meeting of the Ministerial Committee of Seven on the follow-up of the 1996 Peace Agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front and the Government of the Philippines, which was attended by His Excellency Professor Nur Missuari, Chairman of the Front, and a representative of the Government of the Philippines. The Conference expressed its appreciation for the step taken so far to implement in full the aforementioned peace agreement. It also called on the Government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front to preserve the gains made by the said agreement especially the restoration of peace in the south of the country. It demanded that the necessary guarantees be provided for that purpose.

 

80.       The Conference also called on the parties concerned to continue providing adequate assistance to fully implement the Peace Agreement during the transitional period until the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Southern Philippines.

 

Excerpts from

REPORTS OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL, H.E. ABDELOUAHED BELKEZIZ ON THE MUSLIM MINORITIES SUBMITTED TO THE TWENTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
BAMAKO, REPUBLIC OF MALI
4-8 RABIEUL THANI 1422H (25-29 JUNE, 2001)

(e)        On 8.1.2001 the Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was received at the General Secretariat. The meeting reviewed the most recent developments in Southern Philippines and the obstacles to the  Peace Agreement signed with the Government of the Philippines, and the steps taken to implement Resolution No.56/9-P(IS) of the 9th Islamic Summit Conference on the Question of Muslims in the Southern Philippines. The MNLF Chairman emphasized that the Government of  the Philippines has not honoured its obligations stipulated in the Agreement, especially those concerning the provision of necessary funds for development and reconstruction in the Southern Philippines.       

 

ON THE QUESTION OF MUSLIMS IN THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES

1.         Following a protracted struggle spanning almost four decades the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a Peace Agreement on 2 September 1996 with the government of the Philippines, and with the participation of the Ministerial Committee of Six entrusted with following up this question as well as the OIC Secretary General. This result was reached to thanks to the efforts exerted by the Member States of the OIC Committee of Six, in collaboration with H.E. the President of Indonesia, H.E. the then President of the Philippines, and Professor Nur Misuari, Chairman of the MNLF. The agreement provided, 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 MNLF. The SPCPD 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 a Special Zone for Peace and Development; the zone 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 honored 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 the provision of the approved budget to carry out development projects in the region. The government of the Philippines had allocated 41.9 billion Pesos for development projects in Mindanao. However, only 2 billion pesos have been disbursed, in addition to non-rehabilitation of the airport, non-completion of the roads nor of the necessary housing areas, as promised.

4.         The achievement of comprehensive development and establishment of peace in southern Philippines necessitate the effective 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 constitution 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 benefit 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 with the aim of 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, Mr. Nur Misuari, Governor of the Autonomous Region and MNLF Chairman, submitted a memorandum in September 1999 to the then President 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 ensure 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 with the aim of 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 development 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 honor their commitments and obligations. It supported the MNLF request to postpone the plebiscite to the year 2003, and the provision of the 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 27th ICFM, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 24 to 27 Rabie I 1421H (27-30 June 2000) adopted Resolution No. 56/27-P on the Question of Muslims in southern Philippines, expressing its appreciation of the important steps taken to fully implement the Agreement. It called on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF to preserve the progress made as a result of signing the Peace Agreement on 2 September 1996. Operative para (14) of the Resolution stipulates as follows:

"Requests the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to consider postponing the election date set for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to 2003, and consequently to postpone the plebiscite, in order to ensure the full 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 (15) stipulates as follows:

"Urges the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to immediately cease its military attack on the MNLF and the Bangsamoro people and to seek a peaceful resolution of the existing problem in Mindanao".       

11.       The Ministerial Committee of Seven 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 28 June 2000, alongside the 27th ICFM, under the Chairmanship of the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Dr. Alawi Shihab, in order to listen to the progress reports and 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 concluded with the MNLF, including working to provide the necessary financial resources to implement the development projects in the southern Philippines. He stated that the delay in implementing some projects was due to the financial crisis which the country was facing, stressing that his government had postponed the election date set for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to September 2001, hoping that the government will be able to honor its obligations during this period.

13.       The MNLF delegation, headed by Professor Nur Misuari, made an exhaustive presentation before the Committee in which he deplored the allegations made by the head of the Delegation of the Philippine government, particularly regarding the financial figures allocated to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. He reminded the Committee that the Philippine government continued to impede the implementation of the development projects and urged the latter to comply with the provisions of the Peace Agreement in order to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the southern Philippines.

14.       Given the disparity between the positions of the two parties, and the need for the language of dialogue to prevail and for an appropriate mechanism to be found to verify conditions in the southern Philippines, to follow up and evaluate the situation and to make practical proposals in this regard, the Committee recommended to send a fact-finding mission to be constituted from the Ministerial Committee of Seven to the Philippines to assess the current situation in the southern Philippines and verify the progress made in implementing the 1996 Peace Agreement.

15.       In implementation of paragraph (118) of the Final Communique of the 27th ICFM and the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee of Seven on the question of Muslims in the Southern Philippines, held in Kuala Lumpur on 28 June, 2000, the fact-finding Commission visited  the Philippines from 16 to 21 October 2000, headed by Dr. Alawi Shihab, Foreign Minister of Indonesia. Representatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Republic of Senegal and the OIC participated in the visit. The aim was to evaluate the situation in the Southern Philippines and to be briefed on the progress made in implementing the 1996 Peace Agreement, and to meet the representatives of the MNLF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and to visit Southern Philippines.

16.       The Ministerial Committee of Seven on Following-up the Implementation of the Peace Agreement held a meeting on 10.11.2000 on the sidelines of the 9th Islamic Summit Conference, held in Doha, State of Qatar, from 12 to 14 November 2000, under the chairmanship of Dr. Alawi Shehab, Foreign Minister of Indonesia and the participation of the representatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Republic of Senegal, Republic of Somalia, Brunei Darussalam and the OIC, aimed at listening to the report of the Fact-finding Commission of the Ministerial Committee of Seven and its mission to the Philippines from 16 to 21 October 2000.

17.       In this report it was mentioned that the representative of the Republic of the Philippines gave an address in which he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to implementing the peace agreement signed with the Moro National Liberation Front, and also to providing the financial resources required for the realization of development projects in Southern Philippines.

18.       The delegation of the Moro National Liberation Front, under the chairmanship of Professor Nur Misuari, gave a comprehensive presentation on the situation in Southern Philippines and the obstacles to the implementation of the agreement in all fields, reminding the Committee that these obstacles do not help the effective implementation of the agreement and urging the government of the Republic of the Philippines to abide by the provisions of the peace agreement.

19.       The Committee reviewed the report presented by its fact-finding mission and thereon submitted the following recommendations to the Summit Conference:

i.          that the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front agree on rescheduling a date, no later than the year 2003, to conduct a referendum so that it becomes possible to complete the transition from an interim status to normal self-rule in accordance with Resolution P 56/27 of the 27th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers.

ii.          that the government of the Republic of the Philippines upgrade the level of participation of the Committee of Southern Philippines for Peace and Development in peace and development activities in the region and in governmental decision-making. The Committee also recommends that the Mindanao Muslims’ self-rule area strengthen its administrative apparatus with a view to encouraging other regions and other armed Muslim communities to join the Mindanao Muslims’ self-rule area.

iii.         Individuals who have completed their basic military training or who are still in military training in the Philippine army shall remain in separate units and be gradually incorporated in the Philippine armed forces and the Philippine national police.

iv.         To provide financial and technical support to enable Muslim communities – including former fighters – to join the economic development efforts in the area designated for peace and development, in line with the role of the OIC as a mediator in the peace process.

v.         To urge the government of the Republic of the Philippines to stop its military assault on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front immediately and find a peaceful solution to the current crisis in Mindanao.

vi.         To commission the chairman of the Committee of Seven to make the necessary contacts with the Philippine government during the first quarter of 2001 to draw up a time-table for the implementation of all the items of the 1996 peace agreement.

20.       Having considered the report of the afore-mentioned fact-finding mission, the Ninth Islamic Summit Conference, held in Doha, provided in its Resolution No.56/9-P(IS), as follows:

1.         Welcomes the new membership of Brunei Darussalam in the Committee of Six on the Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines.

2.         Calls on both the Government of the Republic of Philippines and the MNLF to preserve the gains achieved as a result of the signing of the “Peace Agreement”.

3.         Commissions the Chairman of the Committee of Seven to make the necessary contacts with the GRP and the MNLF during a period not later than the end of the first quarter of 2001 with a view to setting up a time-table for the implementation of all the provisions of the 1996 Peace Agreement.

4.         Urges the Government of the Republic of Philippines and MILF to promptly put an end to armed hostilities and to pursue peace talks toward finding a peaceful resolution to the existing problem in Mindanao.

5.         Appeals to all Islamic charitable organizations in OIC Member States, as well as others, to extend medical and other humanitarian assistance to the displaced people who are the victims of violence in Mindanao and its islands.

21.       The MNLF maintains in its reports that the two 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 annul the peace process. It confirms that the government of the Philippines continues to place obstacles to the implementation of the Peace Agreement; it has not honoured the commitments stipulated in the Agreement, especially providing the necessary funds for the development and reconstruction of the Southern Philippines.

22.       On 27 February 2001 the Secretary General received a message from Professor Nur Misuari, Chairman of the MNLF informing that the Government of the Philippines has decided to conduct a plebesite on ratifying the revised law to expand the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao on 14 May 2001, in 14 provinces and 12 cities, to coincide with the local elections in the Philippines. This conflicts with Res. No.56/9-P(IS) of the 9th Islamic Summit Conference and it is also contrary to the articles of the 1996 Peace Agreement, signed between the Government of the Philippines and the MNLF. He appealed to the OIC to exert its efforts towards the Government of the Philippines in order to give up the implementation of its decision.

23.       The MNLF appealed to the OIC Member States to double their assistance to the Muslims of southern Philippines in order to achieve the economic development of the area which has been suffering deprivation over many years. It called on the OIC Specialized and Affiliated Organs, especially the IDB, to participate in the development process. 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 carry out its mission. 

24.       The Secretary General dispatched a message No.670, dated 26.2.2001 to Dr. Alawi Shihab, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, hoping that His Excellency would exert his good offices towards the Government of the Philippines, in order to set up a timetable for implementing all the articles of the 1996 Peace Agreement, not later than the end of the first quarter of 2001 in implementation of operative para (8) of Res. No.56/9-P(IS) of the 9th Islamic Summit Conference.

25.       The Secretary General is submitting the present Report to the 28 Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for appropriate decision thereon.               ----------       

 

 

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