MANILA The Philippine government has reiterated its invitation to Ambassador Rezlan Jenie, chairman of the Organization of Islamic Conference-Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP), to visit the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) later this year to see the reforms implemented by the government in the region.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles made the invitation on behalf of the Philippine government at the just-concluded second Ad Hoc High Level Group (AHLG) of the OIC-Government of the Philippines-Moro National Liberation Front (OIC-GPH-MNLF) Tripartite Implementation Review Process in Bandung, Indonesia.
We reiterate our invitation to the OIC-PCSP to visit the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao later this year in order to see for themselves the ongoing efforts to reform governance and to catalyze development in the region," Deles said.
The meeting discussed the complete implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF forged during the Ramos administration.
Deles thanked Jenie for his untiring efforts in facilitating the two-day Ad Hoc Hi-Level Group meetings of the tripartite review process on the implementation of the 1996 Government of the Philippines-Moro National Liberation Front (GPH-MNLF) Final Peace Agreement.
We went to Bandung ready to report on all the government has done in compliance with the terms of reference of the Tripartite Implementation Review Process, Deles said.
As part of the understanding reached with the MNLF in the First Tripartite Implementation Review Conference held in Solo, Indonesia in June 2011, on forging partnership in pursuit of governance reform in the ARMM, we ensured the appointment of several qualified and major MNLF personalities to positions in the current regional government, she added.
Deles said leading these appointments is Bainon Karon, now the OIC vice governor of the ARMM.
In previous meetings, the Philippine government legal review panel had collaborated with its MNLF counterpart to produce a list of common proposals for legislative action.
As reported in Bandung, we have further studied this list and determined that some items are already in place, and that others can more appropriately be submitted to the Regional Legislative Assembly for immediate enactment, Deles said.
We can in all honesty say that the Government of the Philippines has not been remiss in responding to the expressed interest of the MNLF to take part in the reform of the ARMM and see through the other elements that will complete the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF, she stressed.
She said the parties also discussed the MNLFs demand to expand the area of autonomy.
The government has painstakingly explained that the process of defining the area had been completed in 2001, when Republic Act No. 9054 was put through a plebiscite. Nonetheless, we do not foreclose that the possibility of a plebiscite may arise in the context of ratifying an amendatory law to R.A. 9054, Deles said.
It is of course the position of government that any possible expansion can happen only after consultations with affected areas and the consent of the governed is secured, she said.
According to Deles, the government has agreed to meet again with the MNLF to discuss details for further enabling the meaningful involvement of the MNLF in the governance reform of the ARMM.
We are also willing to consider the proposal to form a communication and consultation mechanism for monitoring the partnership in this reform track, she said.
Deles admitted that this has been a difficult process, saying that our delegation had to contend with differences in the understanding of the parameters of the review. But the facilitators and our team members persisted in our sincere desire to arrive at a fair resolution of the issues and the completion of the tripartite review process.
We continue to communicate with the OIC-PCSP regarding the work that has been completed. Needless to say, the success of the next steps depends on the full cooperation, focus and clarity on the understanding reached between the two parties, Deles said.
Also in Bandung, the joint technical working group meeting on strategic minerals defined several measures that will be undertaken in order to put in place a co-management arrangement between national/regional government on the utilization of natural resources and to enhance the fiscal autonomy of the region.
Deles thanked Mohd Takyuddin Bin Yahya, the representative from the Islamic Development Bank, who came to Bandung, citing the importance of the socioeconomic development of southern Philippines.
At the same time, Deles also thanked Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Kristiato Legowo for co-facilitating the meetings and the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the logistical arrangements.
Other officials who helped the two-day conference were Ambassador Sayed Al Masry, the OIC Secretary-Generals special envoy for Peace in Southern Philippines, and the representatives of the governments of Turkey, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Libya for accompanying the parties in their meetings. (PNA)