Oct. 13 - A landmark peace agreement ending decades of conflict in southern Philippines raises expectations of economic development in the resource-rich region. Sunita Rappai reports.
After the peace deal - hopes for a better future. Residents in the Philippines' resource-rich southern Mindanao region - where more than 120,000 have been killed in a 40-year conflict between Muslim insurgents and the government - are hopeful that last week's peace agreement will pave the way for an economic revival. Businessmen Abdul Kahar Nul is building an upscale hotel and a mall offering the area's first modern cinema. He says the agreement is a big deal for him as he's been waiting for the opportunity to expand his business. Mindanao has an estimated $312 billion in mineral reserves including gold, copper and nickel. Asian Development Bank's country director Neeraj Jain says the peace deal is a game changer. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK COUNTRY DIRECTOR FOR PHILIPPINES, NEERAJ JAIN, SAYING: "So the expectation that that area of Mindanao, a very large and resource-rich area of Mindanao, will finally see peace and political stability -- by itself will generate expectations". The landmark deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government will see Muslim-majority areas transformed into a self governing political entity called Bangsamoro, by 2016. But the south's volatile politics could still hamper the plans with a breakaway group already vowing to continue fighting for an independent Islamic state.