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Iligan will lose gold, copper, 8 barangays in BJE - mayor

August 5, 2008 3:56pm
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The proposed pact between government and the Moro Islamic Liberaton Front would mean that Iligan City would lose 82 percent of its land, the city mayor said Tuesday.

In addition, the city would also lose rights to possible gold and copper deposits.

Iligan City has 44 barangays, Mayor Lawrence Cruz said, and it would seem that taking the eight barangays would be harmless.

But the mayor pointed out that barangay Rogongon alone has 35,500 hectares out of the entire Iligan City land area of 81,337 hectares.

“Everything would be taken from us and leave us with only 18% of the land area. So I am glad that a TRO has been issued so that the rights of the people in Iligan City could be heard," Cruz said.

The mayor was referring to the portion of the memorandum of agreement between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that would mean an expanded Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao - called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

The expanded entity would include villages carved out from different provinces and cities in Mindanao.

On Monday, about 10,000 Iligan City residents participated in the protest against the inclusion of the eight barangays - Mainit and Hindang which he claimed are populated with 100% Christians, Rogongon and Bigkilaan about 95% Christian, Panuruganan which is home to Higaonon tribal group in Iligan, while the predominantly Muslim barangays Lanipao, Dulag and Kalilangan are the farthest.

Aside from the Iligan protest, other rallies were held in different places in Mindanao.

Cruz said during the previous plebiscites - held November 1989 and August 2001 - Iligan City voted overwhelming 'no' to the proposal that it be included in the ARMM.

He said that no votes were pegged at 96.8% and 97.4% respectively.

Cruz claimed that the two election results were already clear manifestations that Iligan should be excluded.

“I can’t find any other city with such overwhelming result as compared to Davao and Zamboanga at those times,"he said.

Despite this, Cruz said he has nothing against the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

“It is probably the right time but at the wrong place. There is a peaceful co-existence between the Muslims and Christians here. We just want that friendly walls create good neighbors. We want to express what we want and we want it respected," Cruz clarified.

Cruz said that barangay Rogongon has the copper ore and some big mining companies have already filed their applications to operate in the area.

Barangay Mainit, he also said, has gold but only individual gold panners are operating there while there are pending applications as well.

“We don’t want to act on these hastily. Mining is a sensitive issue that is why all applications are on hold especially that the Catholic church expressed its legitimate interference," Cruz clarified.

While the TRO is in effect, Cruz said the city won’t letup with what it has started. It would continue to sustain its strong opposition against the inclusion of the eight barangays.

“We would continue the ways and means to show that Iligan City does not want to be included in the ARMM, we will have human chain one of these days in all barangays here from Buru-on to Dalipuga. We will hang streamers to all the houses and establishments so that the MILF and GRP would know our collective decision that we want to remain an independent city," he said. - GMANews.TV
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