A serious Environmental hazard produced by the (HEPP) of lake Lanao

My Legal Point

Atty. Bayan G. Balt

Unknown to many residents surrounding the lake is a serious environmental hazard that man could not imagine, because of its devastating and destructive effects. According to reliable scientific studies, the operation of the six (6) hydroelectric Power Plants (HEPP) produced floods, pollutions and diseases. As further explain by experts “during rainy seasons, the National Power Corporation (NPC) closes the Agus 1 Dam built at the mouth of the Agus river while during dry seasons, they opened the Dams.”  this practice has obstructed the free and natural flow of waters from lake Lanao to the Agus river, consequently during rainy seasons, low laying areas including farmlands, Mosques and communities submerged due to flood waters while during dry seasons, low laying areas lost irrigations waters, disappearance of fish and other species and breeding sanctuaries, causing unprecedented damages to the lake ecosystem downstream.

The Agus Dams built in the mouth of the Agus river is more dangerous to people’s health. A report from studies of the World Commission on Dam (WCD) claims that large Dam produce methane, a poisonous colorless odorless substance which is a product of biological decomposition of organic matter, as said by expert, “Methane is produced at the bottom of the reservoirs, where oxygen is low and the bacteria decomposes organic materials, like trees and grasses, which is already present or carried by watercourse. Part of the methane becomes CO2 the rest is carried to the surface as bubbles. (International River reports, the Guardian).When this happened, people that inhaled the Methane acquired diseases including cancer, stomach ache, lung and heart problems. Researchers found that rotting vegetation in the water means that the dams emit about a billion tons of greenhouse gases every year. … When considered over a 100-year timescale, dams produce more methane than rice plantations and biomass burning”, the study showed, (The Guardian, Nov. 14, 2016).

The 57 Muslim countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), passed a Resolution recognizing the environmental hazards produced by the HEPP of lake Lanao, thus:

“Appeals to the Philippine government to see to the early resolution of the environmental problems resulting from the failure on the part of the power and electricity plants in Lake Lanao and its surroundings, to observe environmental standards, to avoid the pollution of the water and the spread of disease among citizens there”. (RESOLUTION No. 2/34-MM ON QUESTION OF MUSLIMS IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES, The Thirty-fourth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Session of Peace, Progress and Harmony), held in Islamabad, Islamic Republic of Pakistan from, 28 – 30 Rabiul Thani 1428H (15-17 May, 2007);

Corollary, Allah (swt). ordained human being as keepers of all creations including waters, soil, air, animals and trees while environmental protection is an integral part of Islamic beliefs, the Quran says:

“And We sent down water from the heaven in proper quantity, and we made Earth its dwelling, and We are Able to take it away.” (23:81). Further, Islam forbids the wastage of water and the preservation of water for the drinking of mankind, animal life, bird life and vegetation is a form of worship which gains the pleasure of Allah (swt.) (Mufty Imam Tajuddin H. Alhilaly).

It is unfortunate that despite a staggering P45- B Pesos allegedly collected by the NPC as power revenues from the six (6) hydroelectric power plants operating in lake Lanao, these revenues are sent to Manila five hundred (500) miles from Lake Lanao while the Maranaos got only floods, pollution and diseases from said power plants. More worst is the miserable incompetence of the BARMM (due respect to others) who are ignorant of the environmental sufferings of the Maranaos, they should have investigated this tragedy and pass a law in aid of legislation to mitigate or prevent this alleged ‘man made ENVIRONMENTAL GENOCIDE’?

Postscript: to my previous column (Lake Lanao’s wealth, a bastion of BARMM’s opportunities ignored). Crystal clear BARMM has no jurisdiction over lake Lanao, as says the BOL: Section 22. Management of Inland Waters. – The Bangsamoro Government shall have exclusive powers over inland waters, including lakes, marshes, rivers, and tributaries within its territorial jurisdiction, except those that provide energy to power generating plants. xx xx.

            Meaning that if the Inland waters provide energy to power generating plants, the Inland waters is outside of BARMM’s jurisdiction. Lake Lanao feeds the water resources of the Six HEPP of the NPC that generates electricty. Some misconstrued the second par. Of sec 22 which provides: “If any inland water is a source of energy for areas outside of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, the principle of co-management of fossil fuels under Section 10 of this Article and Section 34 of Article XII of this Organic Law shall apply”.

Section 10. Exploration, Development, and Utilization of Fossil Fuels and Uranium. – Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national laws, the Bangsamoro Government and the National Government shall jointly exercise the power to grant rights, privileges, and concessions over the exploration, development, and utilization of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal in the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro. The use of the renewable energy shall be promoted for power generation to achieve the sustainable development goals and promote low carbon energy generation policies as provided in Section 2 of this Article

Section 34. Sharing in Exploration, Development and Utilization of Natural Resources. – Government revenues generated from the exploration, development, and utilization of all natural resources in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, including mines and minerals, shall pertain fully to the Bangsamoro Government. In the case of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal, the same may be co-managed and the revenues shared equally between the National Government and Bangsamoro Government, subject to the limitations provided in the Constitution.

Sec. 10 above does not speak of lake Lanao, it merely refers to the joint exercise to  grant of rights, privileges and concessions xx xx over exploration, development and utilization of uranium and fossils fuel like petroleum, natural gas and coal. These minerals are extracted from the earth crust while lake Lanao is a mineral that produced energy thru hydro or waters that propel the turbine of the power plants. Likewise, Sec. 34 refers to co-management to future exploration, development and utilization of minerals like uranium and fossils fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal, it excluded co-management of existing minerals produced by hydro (water) plants. It is a general provision on power sharing between BARMM and the National Government hence cannot prevail against a specific provision of Inland waters provided by Sec.22.

For those giving false hopes to our people with big lies, U.S. President Joe Biden has this to say: “xx xx Recent weeks and months have taught us painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit, and each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies”. (Pres. Biden Inaugural speech, Jan. 20, 2021).

For comment at: bayanbalt@yahoo.com

Atty. Bayan G. Balt is the former Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP).

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