Mindanao Cross -- The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had wished the Bangsamoro people would get a big share in the proceeds of whatever natural resources are found in their proposed southern homeland for its residents to have enough fiscal strength to rebuild a community so left behind if compared to more development Mindanao regions.


“We have so much coping up to do,” said Ghadzali Jaafar, the MILF’s vice-chairman for political affairs, as initial reaction to last week’s crafting in Malaysia of the wealth-sharing deal the group and the government’s peace panel are to add as an annex to the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

He said there is "overwhelming wisdom” in their wish to supposedly get more than the 50-50 sharing scheme for fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, and oil that can be extracted from the proposed areas of their envisioned Bangsamoro outfit.

“It was the central Manila government that controlled the utilization of all of the natural resources in the Moro homeland for so long. It’s time for the Moro people to enjoy the natural bounties of their land,” Jaafar said.

Jaafar said there are historical proofs that Mindanao’s Moro nation already existed, with political and economic ties with communities in what are now Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and China, even before the Spaniards arrived in 1621.

The wealth-sharing deal the government and MILF signed Saturday in Malaysia after six days of negotiations indicated a 25-75 partition in favor of the Bangsamoro on taxes collected from its territory, 50-50 on energy sources, such as fossil fuels, oil and natural gas, and 25-75 on metallic minerals.

The Sulu Sea, including the country’s territorial waters bordering Malaysia's, are known to have vast deposits of oil.

The 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta at the border of Central Mindanao’s adjoining Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and North Cotabato provinces, is said to have the largest deposit of natural gas in Asia.

The downstream gush of Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur propels several hydroelectric plants that supplies three-fourths of Mindanao’s daily power requirements.

The newly-crafted wealth-sharing package is to be added as an annex to the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, which will be of an enabling law that would legitimize the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new MILF-led self-governing political entity.

“There are so much rebuilding, capital-intensive rebuilding processes that have to be done in the Moro homeland once there is a binding, durable peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF,” Jaafar said.

He said poverty and underdevelopment in Moro areas were among the consequences of the so-called Mindanao conflict that should have long been solved if Moro nationhood and patrimony over its ancestral lands had been recognized back in the 1970s.

“If we look around, Moro people are no better than beggars. They die as paupers and are buried in lands that have natural wealth below, that belong to them, historically, and by all moral ascendancy,” Jaafar said. -- (JOHN M. UNSON)