By Ali G. Macabalang
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. has asserted the need for a review and decisive consultation over the protested transfer of a long-proposed Marawi City P300-million sanitary landfill (SLF) project from one distant village to another barangay lying on the shore of Lake Lanao.
Interviewed over the phone by the Philippine Muslim Today news on Sunday, Gov. Adiong said he was firm on earlier demand for remedy to escalating valid protest”by residents of Barangay Sugod Proper, a lakeshore village known with existing freshwater springs and as a farming and fishing community.
This developed, former Lanao del Sur Rep. Benasing Macarambon Jr., a staunch advocate for ecological protection of Lake Lanao, urged Gov. Adiong to sanction the controversial project transfer in view of his authority over Marawi as “component city” of Lanao del Sur.
“Gov., Marawi is a component city. This (project controversy) is one issue you and the provincial board can put your weight on. This proposal will affect the lake and the inhabitants around the lake. This should STOP at its inception,” Macarambon said in reaction to a news post in Facebook’s “Amanah Tapatan Forum” concerning the project.
Gov. Adiong was interviewed by phone on Sunday upon arrival from Manila where e attended meetings, one of which had something to do with the brewing debate over calls for extension in the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as interim ruling body of the new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.
Within this week, Adiong said, he will require his provincial environment officer to make a detailed report about his knowledge of the stunted implementation of the waste disposal management project.
Leaders of protesting residents from Barangay Sugod Proper had met him to convey their complaint, the governor earlier said.
On Saturday night, Ayesha talked lengthily by phone to the Philippine Muslim Today news and narrated how the controversial sanitary landfill project. Ayesha belongs to the Tanggote family, which owns a tract of land in Barangay Malimono, the original site of the project.
Then DENR Regional Director Abdullah “Boy” Abubakar negotiated with the Tanggote clan to sell to the government part of its land as site for the project purportedly requiring a 50-hectare area, she said.
Initially, she said, their family sold 31.7-hectare, 30 of which was paid P60-million and the 1.7 given free as a gift on purported bargain by officials of DENR-Region 10 office.
“All the 30-hectare contagious lands have official land titles in the name of the Tanggote family and are located within Marawi City, so with the 1.7-hectare given as gift, Ayesha said, adding that her family and other relatives were readying to sell additional 20 hectares needed in the project.
Ayesha pointed out that the Bangsamoro government’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) leadership had approved the propriety of the barangay Malimono site being far from Lake Lanao.
She said her family was appalled later when DENR officials changed mind in buying 20 more hectares in Malimono, and learned about the city government’s intercession for a shift of attention to buy the project’s remaining required land in Barangay Sugod Proper.
From the Facebook group chat of protesting Barangay Sugod Proper residents, it was gathered that a barangay official sold allegedly at cheap price his land “without prior knowledge” that his property would serve as SLF site.
Last January 6, the Marawi City SP passed a resolution authorizing the transfer of the project site from Malimono to Barangay Sugod Proper.
DENR data showed that the Environment Management Bureau of DENR-Region 10 received the official copy of the SP resolution on Jan. 14, and DENR Undersecretary Jim Sampolna as his agency’s point person to the Task Force Bangong Marawi (TFBM) approved the request for transfer of project site on Jan. 19.
According to the same data, an unnamed “contractor conducted site assessment and survey in the new site.”
At the March 8 meeting of EMB and city government representatives with protesting residents, one of the speakers was saying in a recorded video clip that the new site is located at an elevated level approximately 720 meters above sea level while the rest of the village areas are 10 meter lower.
In an earlier interview by the Philippine Muslim Today, City Mayor Majul Gandamra said that the height of the new site would not matter because the government will build the waste disposal management facility with “modern technology” that can prevent leak of solid or liquid wastes to lower populated areas as well as Lake Lanao.
Mayor Gandamra insisted that workers sent to the Malimono original site were prevented by residents because a part of the purchased land belongs to nearby Kapai town in Lanao del Sur.
He added that the Barangay Sugod Proper site will serve as the main sanitary landfill project and will be expanded later with the Malimono site as an annex facility.
But Ayesha categorically disputed the mayor’s claim, saying that all of the 31.7-hecare land of her family is located within Marawi as can be verified with the registry of deeds and other concerned state agencies.
Barangay Sugod Proper protesting residents have shared Ayesha’s assertion, and branded the mayor’s contention as “lopsided” because the bigger and original project site was being regarded as an annex and not a mother unit.
In his two phone interviews, Gov. Adiong was giving credence to protesters’ claim that “something fishy” concerning money and vested interests were involved in the transfer of the site.
The governor brushed aside an earlier pronouncement by the city mayor that the latter “will not allow any protest” to prevent the implementation of the waste disposal management facility needed in the city for long years.
Adiong said a “genuine” consultation meeting he would arrange will be attended by decisive officials from MENRE, DENR, TFBM, city and provincial governments, and other stakeholders to decide once and for all on the issue.
He agreed with the contentions of residents and independent quarters like former Congressman Macarambon that the welfare of residents and the critical state of Lake Lanao cannot be “compromised” in the risk-posing project like the sanitary landfill project.
Adiong said he also wanted the MENRE and the DENR to clarify which of them has the “say” over the condition of Lake Lanao in its facets other than being a hydroelectricity source.
His quest cave credence to protesters’ contention that after the management of Lake Lanao in its socio-cultural and religious relevance has been devolved to MENRE and that Usec. Sampulna’s approval of the site transfer just last January 19 was purportedly improper. AGM