Skip to main content

Philippine rebels agree to wealth-sharing deal

By Katie Hunt, for CNN
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Rebels stand guard on February 11 during the visit of Philippine President Benigno Aquino to the rebels' stronghold in Mindanao.
Rebels stand guard on February 11 during the visit of Philippine President Benigno Aquino to the rebels' stronghold in Mindanao.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wealth-sharing deal viewed as key step forward in quest for peace with Muslim rebels
  • Muslims will get a 75% share of income derived from the exploitation of minerals
  • Rebels have been fighting for independence from the Philippines for years
  • Peace process to create a new autonomous region administered by Muslims

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Muslim rebel leaders in the Philippines' troubled south will get access to the lion's share of the region's natural resources under a new agreement reached in peace talks with the government.

The wealth-sharing deal, signed on Sunday after eight months of talks, is viewed as a key step forward in the quest for peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has fought for decades to set up an independent Islamic state on the resource-rich island of Mindanao.

Progress in the peace process had stalled in the wake of a landmark treaty signed in October last year, which sought to put an end to a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.

"For the benefit of Bangsamoro and the whole country, the government and the MILF once more demonstrated that they are invested in the process and will persevere in order to forge lasting peace in Mindanao, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government's chief negotiator said in a statement.

Philippine economy on the grow
Watch volcano spew deadly ash
Philippines deal likely to bring peace

The October agreement laid out the groundwork for a new autonomous region called Bangsamoro that will be administered by Muslims in Mindanao.

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country but 5% of its population is Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Under the terms of the wealth-sharing deal, Muslims will get a 75% share of income derived from the exploitation of metallic minerals in the area -- reported to include gold and copper.

They will also receive 75% of tax revenue, while any income derived from fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas and coal will be split 50-50 with the central government in Manila.

An end to the conflict could help bring investors to the region, which is reported to have untapped mineral deposits worth $312 billion.

"Wealth creation is important for the operation of the Bangsamoro, considering that the Bangsamoro territory is among the most underdeveloped in the Philippines due to the decades-old conflict," the statement added.

However, hurdles remain in President Benigno Aquino's plan to achieve lasting peace in the region by 2016 when his term ends.

Agreements have yet to be reached on power-sharing and normalization -- which means giving up arms. A report published in June by the International Crisis Group warned that the peace process needed to find ways to support insurgents as they build normal, civilian lives.

It estimates that the MILF has 11,000 to 12,000 fighters.

"The government has a poor track record of implementing peace agreements and the MILF is understandably wary of weakening its formidable firepower too soon," the report said.

"Secondly, even if it did hand over some guns, these are unlikely to be destroyed, as per international best practice; military and police would rather keep the good ones, and there is a well-documented history of leakage into the black market from government," it added.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:08 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
updated 6:29 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
updated 3:32 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
updated 6:49 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
updated 12:44 AM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
ADVERTISEMENT