Control over Bangsamoro water resources raises concerns in some sectors
MANILA, Philippines—Who will control Mindanao’s water?
Deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law in the House of Representatives turned up questions of jurisdiction over the water resources of Mindanao, particularly its largest body of water, Lake Lanao, and the rivers that feed it or flow from it.
The draft law states that all inland waters shall be under the jurisdiction of the new Bangsamoro entity, but a provision talks of coordination between the Bangsamoro government and the national government for water supplies and services, flood control and irrigation systems that connect to or from facilities outside the Bangsamoro.
Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, cited “histories of fighting over water sources,” and expressed concern that this would pose serious problems later on, especially in power generation.
“Having two entities with control over the water is not very comforting for us,” she told the House ad hoc committee on the BBL chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chair of the government panel that negotiated the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, cited a section in the BBL that says the Bangsamoro government shall have authority to regulate power generation, transmission, and distribution “exclusively for Bangsamoro and not connected to the national grid.”
“There’s no conflict of interest… the intent is precisely to address lack of power supply,” she said.
In an emergency situation, such as a power crisis, the “emergency powers of the President will trump” all other powers, Ferrer said.
“The President will not be constrained to use all powers granted to him by the Constitution. The law assumes normal times. Abnormal times shall be addressed by the Constitution,” she said.
But Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said the “coordination and cooperation” between the Bangsamoro and the national government would pose jurisdictional problems, insisting that only “one body should decide.”
“The lake (Lanao) belongs to the state and not any particular government unit,” he said.
The water used to power the Agus hydroelectric plants flows from Lake Lanao.
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