CAGAYAN DE ORO City, April 19, 2013—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) strongly believes that cash crops such as oil palm for the Philippines’ burgeoning palm oil industry can help in the development of Bangsamoro areas in Mindanao.
“Itong pagtatanim ng cash crops such as oil palm trees, along with rubber, coffee, etc. will help in the development of our areas,” MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar told CBCPNews at the sideline of the 8th National Palm Oil Congress, Friday.
Jaafar said that it is not only the Bangsamoro people—which for the MILF also include non-Islamized people of other indigenous peoples group—but practically the whole world who are expecting the MILF to ease widespread poverty in Muslim areas of Mindanao.
The MILF is presently playing two roles for the Bangsamoro people, which are representation and leadership, he said.
“Prior to the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the MILF’s role is to represent the Bangsamoro people’s struggle before the negotiating table. After the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the MILF’s role is the provide leadership…In short, our role is how to deliver to the Bangsamoro people what they expected of us,” he said.
During a news conference with select journalists, Jaafar explained that the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), signed on October 15, 2012, states that the Bangsamoro government has the power to create its own sources revenue.
Number 2 of Part IV of the FAB (Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing) states that “consistent with the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Bangsamoro will have the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges, subject to the limitations as may be mutually agreed by the parties…”
The establishment of oil palm plantations for the local palm oil industry in Bangsamoro areas can be a source of revenue that will help in the development of Mindanao, he said.
“Kahit pa may gobyerno kami, kung hindi naman kumakain yung mga tao, walang mga bahay, walang mga trabaho, walang mga damit yung mga anak nila at hindi makapunta sa mga schools sapagkat silay naghihirap [wala rin]…Mataas ang expectation ng Bangsamoro people and other peoples na sakop ng Bangsamoro na pag nandyan na ang Bangsamoro government gaganda ang kanilang pamumuhay. At meron kaming responsibility para kahit konti ma-satisfy namin yung expectations ng mga tao,” he said in a separate interview.
He said the MILF will work closely with the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council (PPDCI) in a symbiotic relationship to make the Bangsamoro people’s dream a reality.
“Kailangan namin ng tulong ng PPDCI…Ang relationship namin will be symbiotic. Meron silang maitulong sa amin at meron din kaming maitulong sa kanila especially in terms of security,” he said. (Bong D. Fabe)