Thursday, May 18, 2006
OIC mission team field visit in Mindanao
Representatives from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) will arrive in Manila today to start their 5-day visit to Mindanao with a courtesy call to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo.
After the courtesy call, the OIC officials, numbering 16, briefing and a press conference will follow, and after which, the meeting with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari at an apartment near the St. Luke Hospital, where he is under house arrest, will follow immediately.
The meeting with Misuari, who earlier requested the court to allow him to join the OIC delegation to Mindanao, will last only for one hour from 4 to 5 pm.
The OIC mission, codenamed as "2006 OIC Field Visit in Mindanao" has been decided following the 32nd Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICEM) at Sana'a Yemen last year, where the Philippines and the OIC Committee of the Eight agreed to send a mission to Mindanao to check on the status 1996 peace accord between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The delegation will proceed to Marawi City Thursday where they will meet some government officials including Lanao Del Sur Governor Manalao Bashir and Marawi City Omar Ali. They will also confer with some non-government officials including representatives of the Lake Lanao Watershed Protection and Development Council and National Power Corporation on the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
From Marawi City, they will proceed to the town of Parang in Maguindanao province to meet with former MNLF rebels-turned-government soldiers and to disperse fingerlings at an undisclosed lake along the way.
The OIC officials would proceed to Cotabato City and stay thereat overnight where some government officials who would brief them on the current security situation and trade opportunities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comprising the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu.
However, their itinerary did not include meeting with Cotabato City Mayor Muslimen Sema, who is also a senior leader of the MNLF. But a close aide of the mayor disclosed to reporters that he would meet with the visitors and discuss some provisions in the peace agreement that Manila allegedly failed to honor, among them the livelihood programs for former rebels.
"Mayor Sema will raise these issues to the OIC delegation because these are what former rebels are complaining about. Many former MNLF fighters are disgruntled and want government to fulfill and fully honor the 1996 peace accord they signed with the Philippine government," the source said.
Also in Cotabato City, the OIC delegation will meet ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, who will update them on the various projects funded by Muslim states and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Late in the morning of Friday, they will motor to Midsayap, North Cotabato where they will offer their Friday prayers at the mosque inside the compound of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) built by the late Director Macmod Mending.
Mending and two others were killed in a grenade blast while performing the Friday prayers, but until now after several years no one was arrested to answer for that heinous crime. The delegation will stop briefly in Matalam to meet one MNLF leader, a certain Datu Dima Ambil, to take a look at some success story of former MNLF commanders who benefited from the “Arms to Farms” program of the government.(PRESS RELEASE)