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 6:32 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
updated 5:26 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
updated 4:51 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
updated 1:22 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
updated 10:36 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
updated 5:28 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT