• Govt, MILF sign deal on wealth-sharing

    4
    Govt,-MILF-sign-deal20130715

    Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief of the government panel, Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, Malaysian facilitator and MILF panel chair Mohaqer Iqbal sign the wealth-sharing agreement. AFP PHOTO

    Rebel group gets 75% share of earnings from natural resources
    The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a wealth-sharing agreement after extended negotiations that stretched into the night on Saturday.

    The deal was signed at midnight in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur by chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, head of the MILF panel.

    Ferrer said the government was cautiously optimistic that a final peace pact could be wrapped up within weeks after the wealth-sharing agreement was reached following six days of grueling talks.

    “This signing indicates that both sides are really committed to finish the peace negotiations. Nobody wants this not to reach its fruition,” Ferrer told Agence France-Presse after the pact was signed.

    Under the deal, the government agreed to let the rebels have a 75 percent share of earnings from natural resources and metallic minerals in the proposed autonomous region for the Muslim minority in southern Mindanao, Ferrer said.

    For energy resources, both sides agreed to split earnings equally following the talks hosted by neighboring Malaysia.

    “We are always optimistic, but that is always guided by a good sense of possibilities and constraints of our situation,” she said.

    The government had initially bargained for a bigger share of the wealth, arguing that it did not want a deal that could not withstand legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

    Ferrer said a final peace deal with the MILF could be signed after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which officially ends at the end of July.

    She earlier said the wealth-sharing annex covers “more taxing powers and a more defined sharing of government resources on the whole, in keeping with the goal of having a strong and viable autonomous Bangsamoro governance.”

    The annex “will provide sufficient guidance for the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law’s provisions on wealth sharing and revenue generation for the Bangsamoro as envisioned by the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” they added.

    But MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said his group was not fully satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations.

    “We’re not fully satisfied but it’s okay, at least we have finished something,” Jaafar said.

    He said the MILF was not happy with the 50-50 sharing on fossil fuel, which refers to mineral deposits like coal, uranium, petroleum and natural gas.

    “We wanted a bigger share for the Bangsamoro,” he said, adding that they had wanted a 75-25 sharing in favor of the MILF.

    Wealth-sharing is one of the four annexes to the preliminary Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the parties signed in October last year.

    The others are power-sharing, normalization, and transitional modalities.

    The two chief negotiators said that progress was also made by the Technical Working Group on the issues of normalization and the special team on power sharing.

    The most contentious issue that faced the panels did not necessarily concern percentages on wealth sharing but a “core principle” over natural resources, or the “Regalian doctrine” in the Constitution.

    The Regalian doctrine, embodied in Section 2 Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, states that all lands and natural resources in the public domain belong to the State.

    With the signing of the wealth-sharing deal, the two sides can move on to power sharing and normalization, which involves the decommissioning of MILF forces and other armed groups, and the policing of the Bangsamoro.

    Ferrer said the two sides still had to agree on a formula over how to disarm the rebels as well as the extent of the powers of the autonomous region.

    Jaafar said the group expected a “more contentious” round of negotiations ahead.

    However, Ustadz Pendi Colano, chairman of the Selatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee, the largest faction in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee, warned that another uprising in Mindanao could flare if the government and the MILF sign a Framework Agreement that has not been approved by the people.

    “The Aquino government is rushing the issues without consulting the people in Mindanao,” Colano said, noting that the government panel did not carry out an information campaign.

    “A civil war would surely occur as majority of the Christian populace in Mindanao would seriously react and resist the unconsulted context of the framework agreement,” Colano said.

    He said violence in Central Mindanao could escalate if the issues are not addressed properly by the Aquino government. “Once his term ends, then another serious and critical problem will be shouldered by his successor,” he said.

    Rafael Clarete, the former secretary general of the Mindanao Independent Movement and now the president of the International Police Commission (IPC), said an international non-government organization, Christian forces and indigenous tribes in Mindanao are mobilizing to campaign for federalism.

    “Federalism is the only solution to the peace problem in Mindanao because the Manila empire could no longer intervene in the affairs of the people in Mindanao”, Clarete told The Manila Times.

    He also saw an uprising in Mindanao against Manila if the government ignores “the voices of the people in Mindanao,” he said.

    Clarete urged the government to always consult the people in the South and present to them the issues agreed upon that will lead to the signing of final framework agreement.

    Muhammad Ameen, chairman of the MILF Secretariat, said the group “is not jumping the gun to support, at least in principle, the Charter change initiative reverberating in the House of Representatives.”

    “We are not there; let us wait for the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to finish its job and make a stand whether amending the Constitution is required or not,” Ameen said.

    He added that to this day, the Aquino government and MILF continue to disagree on whether this amendment is necessary or not.

    WITH REPORTS FROM AL JACINTO, WILLIAN DEPASUPIL, AFP AND PNA

    Share.

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    4 Comments

    1. The govt. bended kness….I dont think this the end of trouble in Mindanao…
      i can say this progress is the start of the downfall of Mindanao to muslims.
      mas lumaki pa yan ang agawan in the future.

    2. We hope the long sought peace process with MILF shall usher a new dawn of progress in that region and stop senseless killing of innocent people. we thank the Philippine government for their pragmatism.

    3. The MILF is not surrendering their guns.
      They used threatening words. This is not a peace talk.

    4. Gloria M. Kuizon on

      God bless the Mindanao peace process. But whatever the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sign, it must be in complete accord with the earlier Peace Agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Otherwise the whole thing is again going to be a hollow accomplishment, like so many of this administration’s so-called triumphs which somehow please the rest of the world and the Filipino masses but neither increase employment nor decrease mass poverty and the incidence of hunger among more than one-half of the population.

      Gloria M. Kuizon
      Novaliches, Quezon City