MILF chief’s dream for ‘Bangsamoro’ economy

Paterno Esmaquel II
Murad Ebrahim says he sees great opportunities in Bangsamoro industries that tap the country's natural resources

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim speaks in front of the media for the first time since the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. Photo taken by Karlos Manlupig

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – This is his dream economy for the Bangsamoro homeland.

In a press conference at the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Saturday morning, October 25, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim said he wants it to run on industries that tap the area’s natural riches. This is part of crafting the Bangsamoro region’s integrated development plan, he said.

“Personally what I see is… the potential of the Bangsamoro homeland is more in the development of the agro-aqua industry because we are very rich in that,” Murad said in his first media interview at Camp Darapanan after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“We also know that the Bangsamoro area is very rich in mineral resources,” he added. “So it is just a matter of exploiting these mineral resources for the benefit of the people in the area.”

The MILF chief, however, said there are no “ambitious” economic projects in the pipeline for now. He said the more immediate objective is to focus on livelihood programs, basic necessities, health, and education.

“Our main priority for the moment is that we must make sure that the people on the ground, including our fighters, will feel that after signing the agreement, there is something good happening on the ground,” Murad said.

‘Wives over arms’

Livelihood is important, he added, to ensure the success of decommissioning of arms in what is now the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This is one of the most crucial elements of ensuring peace in Mindanao, after decades of bloodshed.

Murad said he dreams of Bangsamoro families that are “just like other families in other parts of the Philippines.”

“Now, many of the Moro families love their guns more than their wives. He can separate with his wife but he cannot separate with his gun. That is what we are looking forward to. When there is security, when there is justice… when they are served with their basic necessities, then they might say I will marry another three wives,” Murad said.

“That is logical, because people aspire to have their firearms because they feel insecure, they feel they are oppressed,” he added.

He said in November, the government and the MILF will return to the negotiating table in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to finalize the annexes to the Framework Agreement, such as the sharing of power and wealth. – Rappler.com


Read the full text of President Noynoy Aquino’s speech: Agreement paves way for enduring peace in Mindanao

Read the full text of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the establishment of the new autonomous political entity, Bangsamoro, that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.