Foreign biz’s interests caused gov’t to backtrack in talks with MILF

Salic Ibrahim, Maradeca executive director, said they organized the activity held at the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlungsod here to discuss the effects of the withdrawal of the Malaysians in the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

 

Blo Adiong, a lawyer who serves as legal consultant of the MILF, said that “interests of foreign businessmen” were the negotiators’ prime consideration when they identified the areas to be included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. The BJE covers over 600 barangays in Mindanao that the government has offered to the MILF.

 

But when the villages to be included in the BJE were “identified already and an agreement was about to be signed in Malaysia, foreign businesses came in that made the government virtually turn 180 degrees, a reason for us to ask if the government is really sincere,” said Adiong, who claimed he was also consultant in the GRP-MNLF negotiations.

 

The draft agreement on ancestral domain provides that “70 percent of the natural resources will be given to the Bangsamoro,” Adiong added as he explained that it was a way of ensuring that “we do not have to always kneel for government to give us funds.”

 

“Our problem now is how to convince the government to sacrifice the interests of multinational corporations,” Adiong said.

 

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus who was one of the resource speakers at the summit, relayed to the crowd that “our mineral wealth is estimated between $800 billion and $1 trillion as against the country’s foreign debt of $57 billion. Revitalizing the mining industry as the country’s salvation from total collapse is tantamount to a total sell-out.” She was citing data culled from an earlier research on the country’s political-economy

 

“This is the bottom line of the issue of ancestral domain. There are people in the Cabinet who are also involved in mining. There are economic interests that are more decisive on this,” the lady lawyer stressed.

 

“We also have to scrutinize the people in Manila, including the foreign interests who have gone to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan,” Arnado said.

 

The MILF has earlier criticized the government for creating the legal team that has been tasked to review all consensus points that have already been agreed upon by the peace negotiators instead of calling the agreed meeting in the last week of March where they were supposed to sign the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

 

Ambassadors of the United States and the European Union, on separate occasions, earlier visited Camp Darapanan, the known headquarters of the MILF Central Committee.

 

Prof. Punduma Sani, 63, part of the “Top 90” MNLF combatants trained in Malaysia, said, “We don’t want the Balikatan forces who are wearing uniforms. But Americans are welcome here. When we see them in uniform, it always comes to our mind that we are fighting.”

 

Guimba Piongan, a respected university professor here, had this as his message for America: “America has never been a good partner in the world. It has never been a compassionate colonizer. If only America could moderate its greed. How we wish the American people can receive our message that we don’t like them anymore. How we wish that while we recognize its military supremacy in the world, it has to lessen its greed.”

 

The civil society organizations here were, however, “thankful” with the Malaysian government’s pull-out from the IMT “because it brought the issue back to the public and has opened up the discussion which we think is necessary.”

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