COTABATO CITY – A bill seeking to create a Bangsamoro Irrigation Coordinating Office has entered its first reading in the Bangsamoro Parliament on Wednesday, June 16.
BTA Bill No. 107 was authored by Minority Floor Leader Atty. Laisa Alamia, Deputy Minority Floor Leader Engr. Baintain Ampatuan, and Member of Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil.
According to the authors’ explanatory note, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) presently does not have a regional office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. BARMM is presently served by NIA’s provincial offices; Maguindanao is served by NIA Region XII thru its provincial office in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur is served by NIA Region X, while the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi are served by NIA Regional Office IX.
“With the establishment of the irrigation coordinating office in the BARMM, the Bangsamoro Government would be able to address the irrigation gaps and it would be able to work directly on irrigation system development in the autonomous region,” the authors wrote.
Based on the Bangsamoro Development Plan 2020-2022, the region’s potential irrigable areas in 2018 were around 160,150 hectares, while the area served was only approximately 50,096 hectares, or equivalent to a development rate of 31.28 percent of the region’s irrigable areas.
“This implies that the Bangsamoro region still has vast irrigation potentials that, if properly developed, will address food security and rice sufficiency in the region,” the authors noted.
Section 3 of the bill provides that the Bangsamoro Irrigation Coordinating Office shall serve as the coordinating agency for the comprehensive development of all types of irrigation, in close cooperation with the NIA, with priority to the national, communal, and individual system of irrigation.
The office shall coordinate with NIA to study available and possible water resources in the BARMM for the purpose of utilizing the same for irrigation purposes.
It shall also assess and inventory all inland waters such as lakes, rivers, river systems, and streams within BARMM territorial jurisdiction, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy.
The office shall be created under the Office of the Chief Minister. (Bangsamoro Information Office)