Duterte to issue executive order for BTA to exploit Liguasan Marsh

Pia Ranada

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Duterte to issue executive order for BTA to exploit Liguasan Marsh


The Bangsamoro Transition Authority can only initiate the exploration for natural gas and oil in Liguasan Marsh through an executive order, says Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to issue an executive order (EO) granting the Bangsamoro government “full” authority to explore and exploit natural resources in Liguasan Marsh, said to be rich in natural gas deposits.

“We have already discussed this with the President and we are waiting for the official executive order that will come from his office fully authorizing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to trigger the exploration of the natural resources in the Liguasan Marsh,” Murad said before the Philippine Mining Club in Makati on Friday, August 9.

The Liguasan Marsh and its potential to bring revenue to the Bangsamoro government was raised by Duterte himself during his meeting with Murad and other Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) officials on July 10.

Murad, speaking to Rappler on the sidelines of the event, said Duterte greenlighted the proposed EO then.

“In that meeting, he said he will instruct his [office] to make the executive order,” said the Chief Minister.

During the July 10 meeting, Murad explained to Duterte that the BTA needs the cooperation of the national government to explore fossil fuels in the region.

“We explained to him, maybe he has not fully comprehended the provision in the BOL that we cannot also, as far as strategic minerals like natural gas and oil, we cannot explore it alone. It has to be a joint effort by the national government and the Bangsamoro government,” said Murad.

Only with an EO can the BTA be given “full authority to restart exploration,” he added.

Section 10 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law’s portion on natural resources says that the national government and Bangsamoro government “shall jointly exercise the power to grant rights, privileges, and concessions over the exploration, development, and utilization of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal in the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro.”

Duterte has called on the Bangsamoro region to exploit resources in the Liguasan Marsh to generate funds the government can use for the development of the region, so long racked by violence and poverty.

He promised the national government would not take Liguasan Marsh’s bounty.

“It will remain in your control and possession, but you just have to pay the taxes and the service that the government will spend. I promise you, and that’s my commitment: It belongs to the Moro people,” Duterte had said in June 2018.

The Liguasan Marsh is located in the Cotabato River basin in the plain areas of Central Mindanao, spread across the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

It reportedly holds billions of cubic feet of gas and is also said to have oil and coal underneath. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.