By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
MAKATI CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of members of various Moro groups flocked today to the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) here to protest the Arroyo government’s application for permanent observer status in the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
The protesters also called on the leaders of OIC member-countries to ignore the Philippine government’s attempt to get an OIC observer seat. They are members of the groups Federation of Muslim Organizations of the Philippines, Bangsamoro, Organization of Maguindanaon and Iranun, Alliance of Moro Organizations of the Philippines, Muslim Youth Brotherhood-National Capital Region (NCR) Chapter, Islamic Da’wah Association of Baseco, United Maguindanaon Association of Taguig, and the Muslim Association Development Fund Inc.
The OIC is the largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations (UN). Based in Egypt, it is scheduled to hold a ministerial meeting from May 23 to 25 in Syria, where the Philippines’s application for permanent observer status is expected to be brought up.
The last time the Philippine government attempted to gain an OIC observer seat was in 2003. Egypt and Syria had pledged support to the Philippines’s bid earlier this month following visits by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the two countries.
“Over 600,000 (people), mostly Moros, in 2008 fled their (homes) because of indiscriminate bombings by the government and its Armed Forces,” said Datuan Magon, secretary-general of the Federation of Muslim Organizations in the Philippines.
Magon added that the government’s application for permanent observer status in the OIC is “morally wrong, an injustice to the Bangsamoro people, and an insult to the memory of (the) over 120,000 (people) killed in the Mindanao conflict since 1969.”
“Before (the government) could think of joining the OIC as observer, it should first sincerely and honestly, with decency and without deceit, resolve the Mindanao problem, (fully implement) the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), accept the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) as a done deal and a starting point for the resumption of talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and stop the destruction of Moro communities and the killing of Muslims in Mindanao,” Magon said.
The protesters also called on the European Union to “exercise its influence” and convince the Philippine government to honor all agreements signed with the MILF, including the MoA-AD. They also urged the US to “play a significant role in the Mindanao peace process” and help ensure that every agreement the government and the MILF entered into is implemented and fully complied with.
They also appealed to the UN to “come to the rescue of the Bangsamoro people.” (Bulatlat.com)