Philippines: OIC Urged to Convene Tripartite Meeting

Apr. 20, 2007

Press Statement
April 20, 2007


The Initiatives for International Dialogue together with its allied
networks in Mindanao and Sulu welcomes the timely call of the
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) for an immediate ceasefire
between the AFP and MNLF in Sulu. Indeed, the ceasefire is a rational
step if only to save thousands of innocent civilian lives who might
again have to pay a high price for this pointless war. Sadly, this is
happening amidst what the OIC, the Philippine Government and the MNLF
proudly claim “the feat of peace” in the 1996 peace agreement.

We urge the OIC to take two steps further in its call for a ceasefire.
We appeal that they immediately convene the Tripartite Meeting in Jeddah
– an overdue commitment which they promised to do when Ambassador Sayed
El Masry visited Mindanao in May 2006. It is almost a year now since El
Masrys visit to Mindanao & Sulu but nothing has happened out of those
overflowing assurances, press statements and public announcements for
the holding of the tripartite meeting. The hopes that the OIC had left
our people have vanished from each postponement after another of
scheduled meetings in Jeddah.

Turning Ustadz Habier Malik now as a rogue commander of the MNLF as the
government projects him to be we find very disturbing at the very least.
And putting a one million peso – bounty on his head neither helps the
already depressing situation. The statement only reveals an utter lack
of background investigation with regards to the standing of Malik as a
revolutionary leader of the MNLF in Sulu. Already we can see how this
labeling will progress from rogue, to lawless, ergo terrorist.

We call on the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
to play a more pro-active, sobering and engaging role it is expected of
and immediately take positive immediate steps to finally realize the
promise to convene the tripartite meeting. Similarly, we also call on
the MNLF to set aside internal dynamics and stand united amidst the
political and military convulsion that it is facing today.

What is happening in Sulu is something sadly expected, a carnage waiting
to happen because the 1996 Peace Agreement was allowed to go down the
drain putting all the hard work on it to waste.

But we still believe it is not too late. And both our leaders in the
government and the MNLF should act more responsibly and benevolently for
the sake of the thousands of civilians and evacuees who are now
scampering for safety in Sulu. We all need to immediately attend to the
cries of the people we have avowed to fight and protect rather than run
amuck in the race for power and positions in the coming elections. (30)

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