COTABATO CITY— In an effort to regulate and manage the exploration and development of the natural resources of the Ligawasan, a measure establishing the Ligawasan Development Authority (LDA) was introduced on first reading.
The LDA will rationalize, develop, utilize, restore, and conserve the natural resources of Ligawasan within the areas of responsibility of BARMM.
In his explanatory note for BTA Bill No. 137, also known as the Ligawasan Development Authority Act of 2022, principal author Mohammad Kelie Antao highlighted the historical significance of Ligawasan to the residents of Maguindanao, noting that it has been an integral part of their lives for their social and economic survival and that it has been one of their significant havens, particularly at the height of the modern Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination.
A threat to the maintenance of the dwellers’ historical life in the area and its ecology, according to Antao, is posed by the constant exploitation and usage of the natural resources by the dwellers without alternative acts to preserve their historical existence.
In addition to its historical and environmental significance, “there is a need to urgently address the problem so that these resources would give sustainable economic advantages to the constituents, the region, and the country,” Antao said.
The Liguasan Marsh, the biggest wetland in the Philippines, is spread across the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, covering a total area of 288,000 hectares and housing about 100,000 families. It makes up about 10% of the Mindanao River Basin.
The LDA shall cover all the provinces and municipalities of the Bangsamoro region that hold parts of the Ligawasan enclave as their respective areas of responsibility, including Maguindanao del Sur and the municipalities of Ampatuan, Datu Piang, Talitay, Pagalungan, Datu Montawal, Buluan, Pandag, Mangudadatu, Datu Paglas, Paglat, and SK Pendatun; Maguindanao del Norte and the municipalities of Mother Kabuntalan, Northern Kabuntalan, and Southern Kabuntalan; and the 47 barangays of the Special Geographic Area (SGA) from the municipalities of Pikit, Midsayap, and Pigcawayan.
The bill also aims to generate long-term revenue while protecting the environment for the benefit of Ligawasan communities, the region, and the country.
The proposed measure is also co-authored by MPs Mudjib Abu, Tawakal Midtimbang, Suwaib Oranon, and Bassir Utto. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)