Marawi landfill project site shift to lakeshore village dims as jurisdiction issue surfaces

By Ali G. Macabalang


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY

Chance of expanding the proposed P300-million Marawi sanitary landfill project to a lakeshore village remains dim with the renewed objection by the provincial leadership to a risky shift, even as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admitted possible jurisdiction issue over the project. 

The gloom unfolded in separate interviews by the Philippine Muslim Today news concerned officials – Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr., City Mayor Majul Gandamra and Rey Digamon, OIC-Director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of DENR-Region 10.

In a hotel here on March 21, Gov. Adiong and Mayor Gandamra were seated in separate tables when interviewed one after another, while Director Digamo was interviewed by phone on Wednesday, March 24.

For the third time, Adiong pointed out his support for the establishment of a waste disposal management facility in Marawi City because in entire Lanao del Sur, only the towns of Wao and Amai Manabilang have such facilities.

“Hindi ho tayo tumututol diyan (pagtatayo ng sanitary landfill). Ang gusto natin ay magkaroon ng konsultasyon kung saan lugar or barangay ilalagay ang dump site,” …

But presently, he added: “Hindi ho tayo sangayon na ilagay sa Barangay Sugod dahil maraming magiging epekto sa ating mga kababayan.

He said one adverse effect is foreseen on existing springs in Barangay Sugod serving as source of drinking water for residents and those of 11 adjacent villages, including Barangays Pugaan and Patani.

Protest messages posted on Facebook pages asserted that Barangay Sugod lies on the shore of Lake Lanao and that many residents rely on fishing and farming for subsistence.

These drew flak from former Lanao del Sur Rep. Jun Macarambon, who urged Gov. Adiong to “put the weight of the provincial government and the provincial board on the issue (because) Marawi is a component city of the province.”

Mayor Gandamra, for his part, backtracked from his earlier stance that he “will not allow” any impeding protest from Barangay Sugod, especially from vested interests. This time, he said, he and the governor have “discussed” the issue, reached an “agreement” about the importance of the project, and on the need for popular consultation.    

“We have an agreement with governor… Hindi niya sinabi na he is against the establishment of SLF…Ang sinasabi niya magkaroon ng dialogue with different stakeholders … hindi lang dun sa barangay Sugod kundi mga adjacent barangay. So yan ho ay dapat pinaguusapan. Dapat tingnan natin ang kabuoan niya hindi lang sa isang tao kundi ang buong constituent ng Marawi City,” he said.

He added: “I’d like to appeal to the people na palawakin natin ang pagiisip at mag-dialogue. Kung yon ay makakabuti sa ating mga kababayan then let’s proceed. Kung yan ay makakasira (sa) environment ay di natin itutuloy definitely.”

Mayor Gandamra lamented why only now that some people are protesting when the project started in 2019.

“Nobody raised concern why the project has remained unimplemented in three years. The LGU (city government) is intervening by scouting for land suitable for the project and the process will undergo dialogues. We are assisting the DENR to get the project implemented to benefit not only Marawi City but possibly nearby municipalities,” he said in Pilipino.

Gandamra claimed that the DENR as project implementing agency sought the city government’s assistance allegedly after discovery that a substantial part of the 31.7-hectare it purchased at Barangay Malimono belongs to the territory of Kapai town in Lanao del Sur.

Conflicting information

The DENR bought the 31.7 hectares in Barangay Malimono from the Tanggote family in 2019 for P60-million at P200 per hectare, with the extra 1.7 hectares given as “gift” to the government, according to Aisah Tanggote-Mangoda,

Mangoda refuted the mayor’s claim, saying family-owned property is all located in Marawi City as evidenced by past payments of real property taxes made in the city treasury, not in Kapai town.

Citing information from retired DENR-10 Director Sabdullah Abubakar that the SLF project would need 50 hectares, Mangoda said her family offered 20 more hectares and manifestly declared that part of the offer is located in Kapai.

The EMB-DENR-10 through its bids and awards committee rejected the offer, Mangoda said, though pointing out that their new offer “qualified” under the agency’s criteria for being “adjacent” to the purchased property.

On the basis of the alleged DENR request and rejection of the 20-hectare offer, Gandamra said the Sangguniang Panglungsod passed a resolution authorizing the transfer of the scope of land scouting to Barangay Sugod.

The SP resolution was received by the EMB-DENR last January 14 and was approved by DENR Undersecretary Jim Sampulna on January 19, official data showed.

In Wednesday’s interview, EMB-10 OIC-Director Digamo said his office negotiated with the city hall for the purchase of a new 20-hectare offer in Barangay Sugod by a seller named Al-Muhder Gandamra Cader.

Digamo admitted that the design was meant for the project to make Malimono as base area, and that the city hall interceded to transfer the project base to Barangay Sugod, with Malimono village armarked as “extension” site.

Asked about the mayor’s claim that the Tanggote family’s property belonged largely to Kapai town, Digamo said the 31.7-hectare constituted “seven titles” and that one of such titles covered a portion that stretched to Kapai.

Digamo gave no exact figure on the size of the land that lies in Kapai, estimating it only at some four hectares.

Jurisdiction issue

Digamo clarified that no payment has been made yet on the 20-hectare land in Barangay Sugod pending issuance of an environment clearance certificate (EEC) on the property amid snowballing protests about the village’s abundance creeks and springs serving as drinking water sources for residents in at least three barangays.

He admitted that his office has recently turned over official documents to counterpart EMB office under the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) of the Bangsamoro autonomous government.

On the basis of the turnover, Digamo said, it would be the EMB-MENRE that is supposed to issue the EEC on the SLF project, which forms part of the rehabilitation efforts for the war-torn Marawi City.

In an event of failure to start the SLF project at Barangay Sugod, which lies on the shore of Lake Lanao – a nationally protected freshwater body, the DENR will be compelled to scout for another area in the city and may shift the project base back to Barangay Malimono, impartial sources said. AGM

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