Moro rebels demand stop to oil, gas projects

MANILA -- The Philippines' largest Muslim guerrilla group has demanded the government halt any planned oil and gas explorations by foreign companies in vast southern areas they claim, warning Sunday that energy projects would complicate peace talks.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front refused to say what they would do if the government ignores their request.

The 11,000-strong rebel group has waged a bloody battle for self-rule in southern Mindanao region, homeland of minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. A cease-fire, guarded by international monitors led by Malaysia, has held since the last major fighting killed hundreds and displaced about 750,000 people after the talks bogged down in 2008.

The United States and Australia have backed the talks, fearing rebel strongholds could harbor al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The Department of Energy recently invited foreign and local companies to invest in oil and gas explorations in 12 offshore and three onshore areas that include the vast Sulu Sea in the south and western Palawan province, which cover regions the rebels want to control. The Philippines imports most of its oil and gas.

However, the rebels called on prospective foreign companies not to take part in energy explorations they say would deprive the country's minority Muslims of natural resources. They lament that they have lost land and opportunities in decades of massive land-grabbing by mostly Christian settlers.

The rebels also oppose the planned sale of two state-run hydropower plants in areas they claim as their own.

"The Philippines has become one huge corporation, there are vested interests everywhere," rebel chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told The Associated Press. "We're at the mercy of foreign companies."

Government negotiator Marvic Leonen said that no accord with the Muslim rebels prohibits the government from pursuing development efforts. Economic projects are meant to ease the plight of impoverished Filipinos, including Muslims in the south, he said.

The Muslim rebels' opposition to energy explorations is similar to a campaign by communist New People's Army guerrillas to stop mostly foreign mining companies' operations in Mindanao, where they have destroyed heavy equipment and threatened mining personnel.

Iqbal refused to say if his group would resort to violence, adding they would first exhaust all "diplomatic means."

"We don't want to go into that at this point," Iqbal said.

In current negotiations, the rebels have demanded control over 30 percent to 40 percent of the Mindanao areas and a 75 percent share in revenues earned from the exploitation of natural resources, Iqbal said.

The government has not responded yet, he said.

A similar demand was part of a 2008 preliminary accord on ancestral domain that was turned down by the Supreme Court, sparking rebel attacks on Christian communities that had provoked a major military offensive. (AP)

For more local stories, visit www.sunstar.com.ph

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

  • Filipinos are saving more – BSP survey

    More Filipinos have the extra cash to save for that proverbial rainy day, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP). Based on a quarterly survey on consumer confidence, domestic households with savings have the means to increase family reserves and to bring up the amount to historical highs. The central bank said improved family income, a generally positive outlook on the economy, inflation and foreign exchange rates encouraged saving behavior during the first three months of 2015. …

  • AXA Philippines growing alongside its parent firm

    Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp. is growing side by side with its parent firm, global insurance firm AXA, after posting significant growth in its total premium income amid an increasing market share in the country. A statement showed that in the Philippines, multi-billion firm AXA Group saw P18.35 billion in total premium income. The local entity of AXA, AXA Philippines is a joint venture between AXA Group and the Metrobank Group. In 2014, it saw an increase in market share to 11.6 …

  • End to traffic jam in sight? Japan to lend P4B to PHL for road projects

    The Japanese government will be providing some P4 billion to the Philippines for road projects aimed at decongesting monstrous jams in Metro Manila.Noriaki Niwa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the loan will cover major interchanges to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila, including flyovers, and road links.Among them are the interchanges on EDSA-Roosevelt/Congressional, EDSA-West/North, and C-5-Green Meadows and North/Mindanao Avenue. ... …

  • US won’t provide flexibility for countries interested in TPP

    Washington D.C.—The US government will not provide any flexibility for potential member countries, like the Philippines, in their bid to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a senior official said. Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary William E. Craft, Jr., said all restrictions stated under the TPP trade deal will be maintained and have to be met by the current and future member countries. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options