MILF’s proposed peace pact contains terms on resource exploitation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — Foreign investments in parts of Mindanao may have to pass the scrutiny of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) once a final peace accord with the Philippine government is in place, a top rebel leader has hinted.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, said in a press conference last Saturday in a rebel stronghold in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao that utilization of natural resources in the Southern Philippines has been included in their draft comprehensive compact agreement that will be submitted in the resumption of formal peace talks on February 9 to10.

“There’s no point in allowing foreign investments if it will only benefit them…and if it will benefit the people, it’s still subject to negotiation,” Ebrahim said.

The MILF chief did not elaborate, saying that public disclosure would only come once a final peace agreement would be forged with the government.

But Ebrahim said their proposed comprehensive compact peace draft that will be submitted to state negotiators when talks resume would be basically the same with the one they offered to the previous government.

“We reviewed it and came up with a more comprehensive compact [agreement] draft proposal…there were minor revisions,” he said.

The botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional in 2008 listed under Category B several areas, including South Cotabato, as future possible expansion areas under the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, the supposed governing body.

Category B, or the “Special Intervention Areas,” refers to conflict-affected areas outside the BJE which shall be the subject of special socio-economic and cultural affirmative action implemented by the Central Government pending the conduct of a plebiscite not earlier than 25 years from the signing of the Comprehensive Compact to determine the question of their accession to the BJE, the MOA-AD said.

Under Category B, all of South Cotabato’s Tampakan town, site of a massive world-class deposit pursued by foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc., has been included.

John B. Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines corporate communications manager, said it’s difficult to comment on the possibility of dealing with the MILF at this time pending the ongoing peace overtures.

Already, Sagittarius Mines faces an obstacle in its bid to develop the Tampakan project after the South Cotabato provincial government approved an ordinance banning the open-pit mining method.

There have been efforts to review the ordinance for the possible lifting of the ban on open pit, the method Sagittarius Mines would use in extracting the mineral deposits.

The mining firm, which is conducting final exploration activities, is also facing social resistance mainly headed by the local Catholic Church and security threats from the communist New People’s Army.

Sagittarius Mines is managed by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, through its 62.5-percent controlling interest. Australian firm Indophil Resources NL is the minority equity holder of the Tampakan project.

Slated to start commercial production in 2016, the Tampakan project is touted as the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia.

The investment cost for the full commercial development of the Tampakan project was pegged at $5.9 billion. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

Comments

comments