GOVERNMENT authorities, particularly President Duterte, now look forward to the full exploitation of the natural riches of Mindanao for it could mean progress for the Bangsamoro people.
Due to the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Christians and Muslims alike, many of them innocent civilians, the region remains undeveloped.
But with the implementation of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), President Duterte called on the Moro people to expedite the exploitation of Mindanao’s natural resources.
One of them is the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh, which lies along the three provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao. It is believed to be rich in natural gas.
“Now that you have the BOL…exploit your (vast) resources. Madaliin na ninyo. Ang inyong Liguasan Marsh walang makikialam niyan, inyo ‘yan. That was my commitment to you,” said Duterte.
As early as 2008, Professor Nur Misuari, founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), already acknowledged the economic gains from the oil reserves in the Liguasan Marsh.
Misuari said the marsh holds a huge deposit of natural gas worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and the Moro people could become one of the richest if the area is placed under their control.
Duterte urged the Moros to look for partners for the exploration of the region’s natural resources. “You don’t have the money, look for partners, exploit your territory of the riches,” he added.
“Para ‘yan sa mga anak ninyo, hindi na ‘yan para sa inyo. That was really reserved for our children. Exploit it. Exploit the natural resources and make the Moro rich,” said President Duterte.
With the support of concerned government offices and agencies, the Moro people should heed the call of Duterte if they are to transform sleepy Mindanao into a flourishing region.