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‘MILF bought off by Malaysia’

THE Moro National Liberation Front, led by Nur Misuari, accused the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of entering into a “sinister conspiracy at the expense of the country’s patrimony.”

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza urged lawmakers deliberating on the Bangsamoro Basic Law to look into allegations that government and MILF officials accepted bribes from Malaysia to forge a peace agreement that would allow foreign exploitation of Mindanao’s natural resources.

“Aquino entered into some kind of an agreement with Malaysia for them to explore natural gas when he (Aquino) became president,” Cerveza claimed, referring to the 288-hectare Liguasan Marsh that straddles the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

“The government and Malaysia had a deal to grant Malaysia the sole prerogative to mine our natural gas and develop it,” Cerveza said, saying it was a “sinister conspiracy at the expense of the country’s patrimony.”

The exploration by Malaysian engineers actually started in the 1990’s when the MNLF was still negotiating their peace with the government, he said.

So the MILF disapproved of the exploration because the MILF was still negotiating its Framework Agreement with the government and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim asked Aquino to stop the drilling.

“The MILF didn’t want Liguasan Marsh as the site of the exploration because they will be displaced since their forces are concentrated in the area,” Cerveza said.

But Murad mysteriously agreed not to oppose the exploitation of Liguasan Marsh after he allegedly met secretly with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia days before the signing of the Framework Agreement in exchange for 10 billion Malaysian ringgits (P123 billion).

Cerveza suspects that the MILF acceded to the Malaysian business targets in Liguasan Marsh after Malaysia provided them the necessary support in their peace deal with the government.

“The environment suddenly changes following Malaysia’s financial support to the MILF at the height of its peace negotiations with the government,” Cerveza said, insisting that “money changed hands.”

He said that the exploration will cover thousands of hectares of land in Tawi-Tawi which is rich in oil and gas deposits.

The deals were suspended by the government after report of the secret meeting emerged in October 2012, Cerveza said.

The government even admitted that it was suspending the bidding process of oil exploration contracts in the Liguasan Marsh area pending a wealth-sharing annex for the Framework Agreement.

“Chairman Murad is correct. Wealth-sharing is one of the annexes that we have to finish...Of course we have to finish first the negotiations for all the annexes,” Aquino said at that time.

“From what [then] Energy Secretary Rene Almendras explained to me, we have not yet opened the areas for bidding,” the President added.

But despite the President’s statement, the areas cited by Murad are actually covered by the Department of Energy’s Petroleum and Energy Contracting Round 4 which was launched last year.

Three contracts are currently up for bidding: Area 11 covering 600,000 hectares in Cotabato; Area 12 covering 456,000 hectares in Cotabato; and Area 15 covering 482,000 hectares in Sulu Sea.

Murad said based on available data, the resources in the Cotabato basin are estimated to be 158 million barrels of oil, with 10 wildcat wells drilled in the areas already.

Area 11  in Cotabato received two bids from Forum Pacific and Helios Mining and Energy, which were both accepted.

Area 12 also in Cotabato received a bid from three companies of which two were accepted. Dil Moro Energy Corp. and Min Energy Pty. Ltd were accepted while  Monte Oro Resources Energy Inc.’s bid was rejected.

Area 15 in the Sulu Sea drew the most bids of which three complied. The bids of  The Philodrill Corp and Philex Petroleum Corp.; Mitra Energy Ltd. (with Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Co. and Tap Oil) and Forum Pacific were accepted but the Department of Energy rejected the bid of NorAsian.

 

 

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