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Govt cool to OIC’s plebiscite demand

The Aquino administration was lukewarm to the proposed plebiscite on the new Bangsamoro deal even as it said that it was open to the call of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to incorporate the most outstanding features of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 final peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front.

“The MNLF can continue to participate in the legislative process that will be led by Congress,” government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said in a text message from Japan where she is attending the 6th Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao in Hiroshima.

Ferrer, however, maintained that the draft BBL already incorporated the points raised by the MNLF.

“The Bangsamoro Transition Commission consulted with the MILF and incorporated the 42 consensus points in the proposed BBL,” she said.

The draft BBL will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which was signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Once approved by Congress, the BBL will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro - a new political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The ARMM emerged as the final product of the 1996 peace accord between the government and the MNLF.

But Ferrer said the leaders of the various MNLF factions - including the group of founding chairman Nur Misuari - were earlier invited to join the BTC in crafting the Basic Law, but they all declined.

Ferrer also shot down the appeal for a new plebiscite, describing such activity as “problematic.”

“Insistence on holding the plebiscite in all 13 provinces mentioned in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 FPA is problematic for the Philippine government. The 2001 plebiscite already complied with this.”

Last week, the OIC issued Resolution No. 2/41-MM entitled “Questions of Muslims in Southern Philippines” that was signed during the 41st session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Jeddah from June 18-19.

Aside from its call to incorporate the provisions of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1995 final agreement and the holding of a plebiscite as suggested by the MNLF, the OIC also renewed the mandate of the Peace Committee on the Southern Philippines, currently chaired by Egypt, to “continue the necessary contacts with the Philippine government and the MNLF for the full implementation of the 1996 FPA and the Tripoli agreement.”

The OIC also urged the holding of a meeting of leaders of both the MNLF and the MILF within the framework of the Bangsamoro Coordination Council, “to find a way for the two peace tracks to merge instead of colliding.”

In Japan, Ferrer would be among the delegates accompanying President President Benigno Aquino III, who is slated to meet today Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After the meeting with Abe in Tokyo, the president will also attend the 6th COP for Mindanao in Hiroshima.


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