MILF: Stop oil exploration contracts in south

Posted at 10/30/2012 6:35 PM | Updated as of 10/31/2012 8:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim is asking the government to postpone the awarding of oil exploration contracts in Mindanao, particularly those in the Liguasan Marsh in the Cotabato Basin and in the Sulu seas.

Murad said this is because the government and the MILF have yet to draft the annex that will address the wealth-sharing issue.

"As a principle, we are not against exploitation of our natural resources including oil and gas provided that they redound to the benefits of our people and should be done in the proper time and conditions," MILF website Luwaran quoted Murad as saying.

The issues on wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalization, which seeks the decommissioning of MILF combatants' firearms and the gradual redeployment of government forces in Mindanao areas, are among the most contentious topics that the two panels will discuss in the negotiating table, following the signing of the Bangsamoro framework agreement.

The Bangsamoro political entity will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The MILF website said under the Department of Energy's Petroleum and Energy Contracting Round 4, there are at least two areas up for bidding: Area 11 and 12 in Cotabato, which are around 600,000 hectares and 456,000 hectares, respectively.

Citing available data, the MILF said the Cotabato basin has about 158 million barrels in oil equivalent. There are already some ten wildcat wells drilled.