Indonesia supports observer status for RP in Organization of Islamic Conference

- Pia Lee-Brago -

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) disclosed that Indonesia, a Philippine ally, is “persistent” in pushing for the granting of observer status to the Philippines in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

DFA officials said yesterday that Indonesian Foreign Minister Nur Hassan Wirajuda cited the Philippine government’s conscientious cooperation with the OIC, which led to the signing of the 1996 peace agreement with Muslim rebels.

Indonesia proposed during the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in Damascus, Syria that the Philippines be granted observer status in OIC, adding that this has been long overdue.

In their plenary statements, Malaysia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates supported Indonesia’s proposal.

Other countries expressing strong support for the Philippines’ observer bid were Syria, host of the 36th CFM; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, Libya, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, O-man, Iraq, Turkey, Uganda, Bangladesh, and Brunei Darussalam.

The OIC decided that the criteria for the approval of new observers should be finalized first before admitting additional observers.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and Philippine envoy to the OIC Rafael Seguis reported that the Philippines had the overwhelming support of OIC member states during the May 23-25 session. He said none of the member states objected to the Philippines’ admission as observer.

Seguis added that had the criteria for observers been adopted, the Philippines would have been granted observer status during the 36th CFM.

As a result of the insistence of OIC member states for the Philippines’ immediate admission, the council has adopted in the report of the 36th CFM the following recommendations:

• Calling upon the OIC general secretariat to prepare a proposal on the criteria of observer status for states in accordance with the OIC charter;

• That the proposal be submitted to an Expert Group Meeting preparatory to the 37th Session of the CFM; and

• That the 37th CFM meeting shall consider these proposals.

The new charter of the OIC, adopted in Senegal in March 2008 during the 11th Islamic Summit, provides that observers may be admitted based on consensus and on criteria approved by the foreign ministers of the OIC member states.

The 37th CFM will be held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 2010.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced that the Philippines’ observer status bid in the OIC was rejected at its opening session on Saturday but the government said the Islamic union only deferred decision for technical and procedural reasons.

Seguis, who was with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo in Damascus, Syria, said Monday evening that the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC would like to have an approved criteria first before they consider the Philippines’ request for observer status.

“The 36th Session of the OIC CFM deferred decision to act on GRP’s bid for observer status for technical and procedural reasons. They would like to have an approved criteria for observer status first before they could consider our request,” Seguis in a telephone interview.

The MILF delegation said Turkey led the countries that opposed the Philippines’ bid for observer status, while Indonesia asked the OIC foreign ministers to grant the Philippines observer status. The motion was seconded by Bahrain and Iraq.

“It’s not true that our bid was rejected. The decision was only deferred,” he added.

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