ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — The former head of the European Union (EU) mission to the Philippines, Ambassador Alistair McDonald, will head the five-member Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) created by the peace panels of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to oversee the implementation of an eventual comprehensive agreement.
McDonald and four other TPMT members were formally invited to grace the four-day exploratory meeting of the parties in Kuala Lumpur that began Monday morning, according to a news release of the MILF information committee.
The letter for each, the MILF news release added, was signed by peace panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal “with the concurrence of the Malaysian facilitator,” Dato’ Tengku Ab’ Ghaafar bin Tengku Mohamed.
The TPMT was created to review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the commitments of the parties based on the signed agreements. It is sought to be chaired by an “eminent international person.”
Based on the TPMT terms of reference, its four other members need to come from two international nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and another two from among domestic NGOs.
During his time in the Philippines, McDonald, now EU ambassador to Cambodia, has been outspoken about his views on the Mindanao peace process. As an organization, the EU has a large financial exposure to peace-building and development action in Mindanao.
As designed, the TPMT will provide the international community with the way to help implement the various commitments by the Philippine government and the MILF arising from a negotiated political settlement of the Moro conflict that spawned four decades of Moro rebellion in Mindanao.
Its work will be among the bases for the parties to consider signing an ‘Exit Document’ that signals the termination of the negotiations, and the disbanding of the peace panels.
The parties have agreed that throughout the period of carrying out peace-building and conflict-transforming measures on the basis of the comprehensive peace pact, the panels shall remain in existence to keep an eye on the travails of implementation.
Apart from McDonald, other members are Dr. Steven Rood, Philippine country director of The Asia Foundation; a representative of Turkish organization Insan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH); The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief); lawyer Zainuddin Malang, executive director of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC); and Karen Tañada, executive director of the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI).
The IHH, which is active in more than 100 countries, holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.
Rood currently sits as member of the International Contact Group while Malang is part of the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team which oversees implementation of the ceasefire accord.
Tañada is a long-time peace and social activist. Although based in Manila, the GZOPI has been an active member of solidarity networks that have been accompanying the parties of the Mindanao peace process.
The IHH was owner and operator of three flotilla ships involved in an aid convoy intended to breach the food blockade of Gaza in 2010 imposed by the Israeli government.
“To discharge their tasks effectively, members of the TPMT are required to spend some of their precious time in Mindanao in order to know the real happening obtaining on the ground,” said the MILF.