- Posted February 12, 2013 by
MILF wants to go slow on foreign-aided projects
By Ben O. Tesiorna
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is not keen on implementing foreign-funded projects without first signing a final peace agreement with the Philippine Government. And this desire was supported by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III during his visit to the MILF camp in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Monday, February 11.
In his speech during the launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro project, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said any developments and infrastructure would be for naught without the peace agreement.
“We recognize that by undertaking joint development with government even before a comprehensive compact is signed, we might be putting in jeopardy some critical strategy that has guided our struggle for a long time. We are indeed treading on unchartered and certainly dangerous path,” Murad said.
“We appeal then to the international community for patience and understanding. It is our sincere belief that we cannot jump immediately into massive programs for development without the solid foundation of a permanent and durable peace. We cannot mislead you and lure you into investing the hard-earned money of your taxpayers into development without the assurance of durable peace. The last thing we wanted to see would be development and infrastructures laid to waste in seconds because of war. Help us achieve peace and together we can move with confidence towards development,” he added.
Murad said that development and peace in Mindanao must be institutionalized for it to be lasting.
“Further development can only be effective when it is people-centered. One that is determined and undertaken by its ultimate beneficiaries. One that empowers people and its processes empowering. It cannot be dictated from the center, for ownership is essential. This however must be institutionalized and should not depend on the president that sits in power. And it can only be institutionalized when we shall have signed a comprehensive compact that creates a new relation between us (MILF) and the central government,” he said.
“Development is so important that it must stand, and stand alone on the solid foundation of permanent peace. For only when we achieve this (peace) can we truly be assured of real development not only in this region but also for this country,” added Murad.
In his reaction, President Aquino supported the MILF’s policy stating that donors must be assured that their aid would not be wasted.
“I agree with that concept. Pwedeng magkaroon ng donor fatigue. Merong kasabihan na success has many fathers, failure is a lonely orphan. Tutulong sila kung may maipapakitang resulta sa tulong nila ay gaganahan silang tumulong lalo sa atin. Pero kung tatanggapin natin ang tulong pero di pa tayo handa at mababale-wala yung itinulong nila sa atin ay talaga naming tatamarin na silang tulungan pa tayo,” said Aquino.
Mindanao, in particular the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had received various international aid to the tune of billions of dollars for the past years. Despite this though, the region has not improved much except for the wealth of the elected leaders that became instant millionaires and billionaires after assuming power.
The massive illegal wealth of the Ampatuan clan, accused of murdering 58 people in the infamous Maguindanao massacre few years back, is suspected to have come from international donations.
Once the final peace agreement is forged between the MILF and the National Government, the ARMM will be replaced by MILF-headed Bangsamoro Government.