31 July 1996 Following the announcement of the peace accord reached by the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front, President Fidel Ramos has sent a letter to Libyan leader Colonel Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi, thanking him for the crucial role he played throughout the protracted and complex negotiations. In a statement to the press, Pres. Ramos revealed that prior to his election to the presidency in 1992, he and then Congressman (now House Speaker) Jose de Venecia had travelled via Zurich to Libya. After arriving in Tripoli, they flew to Sirte and then drove for two hours through the Fezzan desert to reach the location where Col. Qadhafi received them in his tent-office. During the ensuing meeting, they collectively forged the framework for the peace process between the Philippine government and the MNLF that has culminated in the recently-announced agreement. The terms of the new accord provide for autonomy to be given to Mindanao island, where most of the country's approximately six million Muslims live. The full text of Pres. Ramos' letter to Col. Qadhafi follows:
Once again, I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to your Excellency for the indispensable leadership and support of the Great Jamahiriyah for peace in southern Philippines, particularly towards ensuring the success of the 8th GRP-MNLF Mixed Committee Meeting held in the Philippines on June 21 - 23, 1996. This was preceded, of course, by the highly successful and constructive Consultation of the OIC Ministerial Committee of the Six held in Jakarta on June 2 - 3, 1995, participated in by no less than the Jamahiriyah's Peoples' Secretary in Manila, H.E. Rajab Azzarouq -- who has, for more than three years, ably assisted and counseled our government not only in regard to the peace negotiations, but in various matters impinging upon peace and development in southern Philippines.
I wish to inform your Excellency that in line with the consensus reached in the Jakarta Ministerial Consultation, as well as pursuant to the wide-ranging consultations conducted by our government in southern Philippines, the 8th Mixed Committee was able to hurdle the formidable impasse on the agenda item on the "transitional implementing structure and mechanism." This accomplishment has paved the way for a complete settlement of the political issues surrounding the negotiation, initially through the installation of a Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD); and later, through the setting up of a new autonomous region in accord with Philippine Constitutional processes.
This breakthrough, of course, could not have been possible without the strong and consistent support of your Excellency and the OIC Ministerial Committee of the Six. I reminisce on the challenges we have collectively tackled, and the gains we have collectively achieved, ever since the First Exploratory Talks were held in Tripoli in October 1992. In the subsequent 2nd round of exploratory talks, three rounds of formal talks, eight meetings of the Mixed Committee and scores of sub-committee meetings, the Jamahiriyah has always stood by our side to promote understanding, accommodation and peaceful consensus. We are thankful for all these, especially to the esteemed officials of the Jamahiriyah, particularly H.E. Abdel Majed Qa-oud, General Peoples' Secretary, H.E. Foreign Affairs Secretary El Mountaser; and Undersecretaries H.E. Ahmad Ben Khayyal and H.E. Salim Bin Amer.
I wish to assure your Excellency that as we move forward in formulating the structure and substance of a final agreement, the GRP stands steadfast to its commitments made in the Jakarta Consultations of the Ministerial Committee of the Six, as well as the 8th Mixed Committee Meeting held in Davao City. We are presently conducting a massive information campaign on the proposed SPCPD, involving all political and sectoral levels in south Philippines. For this purpose, I journeyed to key cities in Mindanao last July 2 and 3, bringing the news of a fresh wind of peace and development soon to dawn upon our people. We were met with a general air of positive anticipation among our people, even as we have yet to hurdle pockets of opposition by means of broader dialogue and enlightenment.
At this threshold of final peace, therefore, I wish once more to thank your Excellency for the invaluable friendship and support of the Great Jamahiriyah in all our endeavors for peace and development.
With the reassurance of my abiding esteem,
(Signed: Fidel V. Ramos)