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(Update) Mayor claims MILF homeland deal will cover 1,459 villages

August 10, 2008 1:53pm
MANILA, Philippines - Not only 700, but a total of 1,459 villages in several provinces in Mindanao will be under the turf of the Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) if its homeland deal with the Philippine government is approved.

This was according to Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, who told radio dzBB on Sunday that the expanded MILF territories could be found in the annexes of the proposed ancestral domain agreement between the government and the MILF that would establish the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

Lobregat said that aside from about 700 barangays (villages) in the agreement’s Annex A that will be under the BJE’s supervision, other villages contained in Annex B will also be included in MILF territories, expanding the group’s home turf to 1,459 villages.

He said Annex B areas were described in the agreement as “special intervention areas" where a plebiscite will be conducted after 25 years of the approval of the agreement “to determine the question of their accession to the BJE."

Lobregat said that while these “are subject to further negotiations by the parties, (the areas included) in the annexes (nevertheless) are integral part of the framework agreement."

He said at least 40 villages in Zambonga City are included in the said annex, as well as several villages in the provinces of Sarangani, Zambonga Sibugay, Zambonga del Sur, Zambonga del Norte, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Lanao del Norte.

Lobregat said many local government units were protesting the inclusion of their areas under the proposed deal with the MILF, whose implementation was stopped last August 5 by the Supreme Court through a temporary restraining order.

The mayor said he was informed by Zambonga del Norte Governor Rolando Yebes that he would file another petition at the High Court against the inclusion of his province from the proposed MILF turf.

Lobregat said he was also told by the governor that mass actions against the homeland deal would be staged within the week. - GMANews.TV
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