MANILA, Philippines – The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front break an impasse on the contentious wealth sharing scheme for the Bangsamoro entity.
Angela Casauay reports.
GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR
It was one of the toughest rounds that we have been through since we signed the Framework Agreement… It was a close call.
On the last day of the talks – President Benigno Aquino sends his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda to Kuala Lumpur along with Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Ging Deles, to relay a message to the MILF.
Despite the President’s men, the day ends without a deal.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal tells Rappler in a text message the government is “too rigid as if their mandate is cast in stone.”
Iqbal adds there is “limited chance” they are returning to the negotiating table.
But the government manages to persuade the MILF to return Friday, and once more on Saturday as the talks are extended twice.
Saturday’s session lasts for more than 12 hours just a few days from the start of Ramadan.
But at 10:30 pm, a breakthrough is reached – the panels finally complete the wealth-sharing annex.
They sign the document an hour past midnight Sunday.
At the heart of the negotiations are the ratio on wealth sharing.
Sources say the MILF wanted a 75-25 share, in favor of the Bangsamoro, across the board.
The government wanted a more nuanced approach.
The final agreement:
75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro for taxes and charges…
75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro for profits from metallic minerals…
100% of revenues from non-metallic minerals quarry resources go to Bangsamoro…
These provisions make this new wealth-sharing arrangement different from what already exists in the ARMM and even for other local government units in the country.
The signed annex also contains two unique provisions.
First is the granting of an automatic annual appropriation.
Second, revenues collected by the Bangsamoro from taxes and natural resources will be deducted from funds from the national government.
GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR
The MILF itself is the proponent of the provision, indicating that behind the negotiations for more shares is their intent to be less and less dependent on the central government.
In any negotiation, there are no losers or winners, only settlements.
As the panels say, there can be no perfect deal, only a perfect compromise.
Angela Casauay, Rappler.