By Ali G. Macabalang
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY
Long-stalled efforts for the creation of Lake Lanao Development Authority (LLDA) have been revived in the Bangsamoro parliament and the Senate, rekindling the hope among long-clamoring people living around the Mindanao’s largest freshwater body.
The interim parliament of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has a pending bill seeking the establishment of the LLDA, while the Senate through Senator Richard”Dick” Gordon is pursuing his bill pushing the same purpose, Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji urad” Ebrahim told the Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news in an exclusive interview here on March 21.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. corroborated the chief minister’s in the same interview here at the sideline of the mass ceremonial signing of memorandums of agreement (MOAs) between the Bangsamoro’s Ministry of Public Works and all municipal and city local government units on the grant of P3.7-billion worth of infra projects in his province.
The chief minister, who is also a member of the 80-seat parliament, said his office has received an official letter from the Senate asking the regional government to submit its opinion about Senator Gordon’s bill.
In response, he said, the regional leadership asked the Senate to consider first the passage by the BTA of its bill for the creation of LLDA before legislating the national version for purposes harmonizing mutual intents and concerns on the management, preservation and development of Lake Lanao.
Ebrahim hinted that apart from the authority granted under R.A. 11054 (Bangsamoro Organic Law) over the “inland waters” within the area of autonomy, the state of Lake Lanao is more proximate and important to the wellbeing of the regional populace, particularly the dominant Meranao tribe in the Lanao region. The term “Meranao” literally means “the people living around the lake.”
Except for the hydroelectricity-generating facet of Lake Lanao that calls for “co-management” between the regional and national governments, such freshwater body is under the “sole” jurisdiction of the BARMM bureaucracy, Chief Minister Ebrahim said, citing their legal luminaries’ interpretation of relevant provisions in R.A. 11054.
In a separate interview with Mayor Majul Gandamra of Marawi City, which also partly lies on a big segment of the lake’s shore, said his office and the Sangguniang Panglungsod also received a similar Senate communiqué asking for their opinion. Gandmra said their official response was still being deliberated by city legal minds, Gandamra said.
Ebrahim said the autonomous governance is not opposed to the eventual passage of a national law creating LLDA, provided however that such edict would not diminish the parameters to be stipulated in the regional measure.
In a press conceference in Cotabato City last January, BTA Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong confirmed the pendency of the bill creating the LLDA.
Balindong had expressed enthusiasm about the revived efforts for the creation of the LLDA, recalling the sad results of his repeated authorship of enabling bills that ended up in the legislative archive. Balindong is a former member of the House of Representatives from Lanao del Sur for four interrupted elective terms.
Senator Gordon introduced in July 2019 his bill seeking to create the LLDA, define its power, functions and duties and for other purposes.
In his statement posted on the Senate website, Sen. Gordon said received a resolution from Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mohammad Khalid Raki-in Adiong and Board Members when they paid a courtesy visit at his office on July 24.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 009 they submitted to us “states their strong support for our bill,” the senator said.
He said he was “delighted to endorse the resolution,” and expressed hope to “start hearings, together with the House of Representatives, the soonest possible.” AGM