ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Iliganons will wear red and flock the streets Monday to protest the signing of a deal between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) regarding additional areas that will be included in the expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The protest was hatched after Mayor Lawrence Cruz informed the Sangguniang Panlungsod that eight upland villages in their city will be included in the final draft of the ancestral domain aspect.

Cruz said he learned this after he was able to obtain a copy of the supposedly confidential memorandum of agreement that is set for signing on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The eight affected villages – Rogongon, the biggest barangay in terms of land area; Panoroganan; Mainit; Dulag; Lanipao; Kalilangan; Hindang; and Diigkilaan – comprised about 66,502.1464 hectares or 82 percent of the city’s total land land area, which is 81335 hectares.

Cruz said these villages are lead communities responsible in agricultural food production and beholder of sustainable forest development protection and management of rainforest in the city.

“Why should we be included again in another referendum when Iligan City have proven twice before as we rejected the move to include Iligan City in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao(ARMM) ,” Cruz said.

Statistical records show that on November 19, 1989 ARMM referendum, Iliganons decided and voted “NO” to ARMM with a total of 61,983 votes (96.8 percent) and “YES” votes garnered only 2,044 votes (3.1 percent).

The second plebiscite on expanded ARMM, Iliganons overwhelmingly voted “NO ” with a total votes of 61,472 (97.4 percent) while “YES” votes got only 1,604 (2.5 percent).

“We are not against the peace process nor we are against the expansion of ARMM, however we can not allow that the harmonious relationship between Muslim, Christian and lumads will be divided,” Cruz said.

Topics : Iligan  ARMM