Last Senate hearing on BBL to focus on control of Lake Lanao

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/08 June) — Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will focus on who will control and manage Lake Lanao, the country’s second largest lake and main source of electricity in Mindanao, when his committee holds the last public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) tomorrow Tuesday.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government said the provision on jurisdiction over major energy sources in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law might come in conflict with the constitution.

He said there will also be discussion on the implications of the proposed Bangsamoro territory on business, trade, finance, health and women issues.

“I have to call another hearing because many of our resource persons invited to our hearing on June 2 were not able to speak and provide us their inputs for lack of material time,” he said.

Marcos said he will start writing the committee report after the public hearing on Tuesday.

Among those who were not able to talk during the June 2 public hearing were Maranao leaders headed by Drieza Liningding, secretary general of Kalinaw Bangsamoro! Kalinaw Mindanaw! Kalinaw Pilipinas!

Liningding and his group are batting for higher revenue shares and control of the six Agus hydropower plants and Lake Lanao, which supply close to 60 percent of Mindanao’s electricity.

He said the local government unit of Lanao del Sur receives less than one percent from the revenues derived from the six Agus hydropower plants.

He noted that while Mindanao’s economy is benefiting from this cheap source of energy, Lanao del Sur has remained the poorest province in the country.

“We are not asking for the ownership or control over the government-owned power plants and Lake Lanao, what we are asking is our just and equitable share from its utilization,” Liningding said.

He said they are recommending to Marcos that revenues from the Agus dams which draw water from Lake Lanao should be shared equally between the national government and the Bangsamoro government.

He said they are also asking the senator to include the term “water” in the enumeration of non-metallic minerals that is provided in Article 12, Section 32 of the draft BBL.

Marcos said discussions in the June 2 pubic hearing centered on police and security concerns and did not include Lake Lanao and taxation.

Last June 2, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares objected to the tax privileges granted in the draft BBL noting that the regional government would retain all taxes collected.

Marcos invited Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Lualhati Antonino and leaders of Philippine business groups to the public hearing on Tuesday.

Also invited were Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Marcos earlier said he will junk the draft BBL and present his own version of the bill after the public hearings. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)