ILIGAN CITY - The Bangsamoro will be among the matters taken up by diplomats of Muslim countries who are meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 18 for the two-day 41st session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
With recent developments in the Mindanao peace process, the OIC is widely expected to consider the question in a more hopeful and positive light.
In a news release posted on its website, the OIC said the cause of Palestine and the ongoing crises in Central Africa, Myanmar, Nigeria and Mali that are affecting large populations of Muslims will be featured in the report of the organization’s secretary-general, Iyad Ameen Madani.
The ministerial conference is anchored on the theme “Exploring Areas of Islamic Cooperation.”
“Also included in the agenda are the situations in Libya in view of recent and ongoing developments and the conditions of Muslim minorities in Myanmar and The Philippines,” the OIC news release added.
With a peace deal achieved to end the rebellion waged by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—the only remaining Moro revolutionary organization in Mindanao—the OIC is widely expected to mobilize resources in support of Bangsamoro nation-building.
The OIC diplomats have traditionally considered the situation in Mindanao, particularly on the Moro people, in its regular ministerial meetings.
Through the CFM, the OIC passes resolutions in support of measures that help advance the cause of the Bangsamoro empowerment.
The 57-member pan-Islamic body has been a key fixture in the peacemaking effort in Mindanao between the government and a succession of Moro revolutionary movements for the past four decades.
Under OIC auspices, government forged a peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1976 that was to be firmed up in another deal in 1996.
Since 2009, the OIC has presided over a tripartite review of how the 1996 deal was carried out with the view of recommending measures to address kinks in its implementation.
The OIC’s consideration of the Bangsamoro issue is set against the ongoing effort to overhaul the Moro autonomous government consistent with the agreement forged between the government and MILF, a group that broke away from the MNLF in 1977.
In the later part of the 17-year process that produced the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed last March 27, the OIC served as observer in the negotiations.
In October 2012, then OIC secretary-general Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu witnessed the signing of the preliminary Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
During the 40th CFM session in Conakry, Guinea last December, the OIC diplomats expressed the hope the gains of the peace negotiations undertaken by both the MNLF and the MILF are integrated in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
When enacted by Congress and ratified by the affected population, the Basic Law will serve as charter of the Bangsamoro autonomous entity that will replace and have far greater powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).
A draft Basic Law has been written by the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission and is currently being reviewed by the Office of the President.
It is expected to be endorsed to Congress as an urgent legislation when President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address in July.
Prior to the CFM session, the OIC arranged and presided over a meeting of leaders of the MNLF and the MILF, in Jeddah last June 12.
According to an MILF statement, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal headed its nine-man team that met the 11-man MNLF delegation headed by Sheikh Abdulbaki Abubakar.
The MILF said the meeting was an effort to operationalize the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) that both revolutionary organizations agreed to set up in 2010 with the prodding of the OIC.
No less than MILF chief Murad Ebrahim and MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari agreed to coordinate their respective efforts for Moro empowerment.
The BCF seeks to serve as a regular platform for both groups to dialogue on issues and unite efforts to advance the Moro struggle for self-governance.
During the Murad-Misuari meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 2010, Ihsanoglu had stressed that “coordination between the two fronts has become of utmost necessity” because their respective peace processes with the Philippine government “revolve around the same problem and the same territory.”
“There is no substitute for unity. The need to operationalize the BCF is very urgent and should be done immediately,” the MILF stressed in its recent statement.
The MILF, however, has rejected the idea of both fronts joining together as one organization.
“The heyday of a monolithic organization is a thing of the past and no longer holds currency today. With changes and the various transformations sweeping across the Bangsamoro, alliances and coalitions are what matter these days,” it said.