COTABATO CITY – A bill creating a commission that will provide the overall direction for the management, development, and conservation of natural and cultural resources within the Liguasan Marsh has been introduced to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament.
Member of Parliament (MP) Ali B. Sangki filed BTA Parliament Bill No. 82 also known as ‘Liguasan Marsh Management Commission’ or LigMarsh Act of 2021 during BTA’s Session 55 last week, March 16.
The bill, co-authored by MPs Mudjib C. Abu and Abdullah A. Ahang, was created pursuant to Section 9, Article XIII of RA 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law which states that “the management and protection of natural reserves and aquatic parks, forest, watersheds and reservation and other protected areas in the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro that have already been defined by and under the authority of the National Government shall be transferred to the Bangsamoro Government”.
The Liguasan Marsh Management Commission, which shall be under the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM), will ensure that local communities will continue to benefit from the resources on long term basis, and will also formulate plans to enhance community and stakeholder share of responsibility in the management of the area.
It will also operationalize a management framework delineating appropriate and viable management zones for various parts of the marsh.
Furthermore, the Commission shall also “create an Area Growth Centre within the vicinity of the Marsh that will host various economic enterprises, livelihood support-infrastructures, socio-cultural development interventions with matching enabling policies to benefit the former combatants and indigenous communities. It shall develop strategies and measures to promote the economic and eco-tourism potentials of the area to attract investment.”
The Commission shall be composed of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE) as chairman and the Provincial Governor of Maguindanao as the vice-chairman. Its members will include the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Management (MFBM), Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism (MTIT), Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Public Works (MPW), the Director-General of the Commission, one (1) representative from the Environment Advocate Organization, and one (1) representative from the Liguasan Marsh private local community stakeholders.
Reportedly rich in natural oil and gas deposits, Liguasan Marsh covers over 220,000 hectares spreading in the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat. It is the largest wetland in the Philippines. (Bangsamoro Information Office)