Who owns Lake Lanao? Who owns Mt. Apo?

Entitlement or fair share?

Climate Change/Environment • Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:54 PM  •  197   0
By Manny Piñol
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Maria Christina Falls in Iligan and Mt. Apo Geothermal Plant in Kidapawan City. (downloaded from google.com)
Maria Christina Falls in Iligan and Mt. Apo Geothermal Plant in Kidapawan City. (downloaded from google.com)
The problem of the six towns of Lanao del Sur which have not had power supply for four years now goes beyond just the unwillingness of people of the province to pay their bills.

It actually involves the more profound issue of who owns the natural resources in the autonomous local government areas.

In the case of Lake Lanao from which the water of Agus River powering the hydro-electric facilities flows from, the Maranaos believe that they should be getting a fair share from the proceeds of the power sold by NAPOCOR before and now NGCP.

It was this feeling of being cheated and shortchanged which resulted in the defiance of the Maranaos to pay their bills.

This, in turn, caused a P10-B unpaid bills for the Lanao Sur Electric Cooperative prompting the NGCP to cut off the power supply.

The problem is not only confined to Lanao residents.

Other local government units hosting power generation facilities producing energy by using local natural resources are also beset by the same problem.

My own province, North Cotabato, is also a victim of a deceitful and unfair energy utilization agreement.

In the late 1980s, the government, in spite of opposition from the people, was able to convince local government units to allow the establishment of a geothermal plant in the midst of Mt. Apo's virgin rainforest.

The promise was for North Cotabato and Kidapawan to have a royalty from the proceeds and that an independent transmission line would make sure that the province would have sufficient power supply.

Not only was the commitment of an independent power line forgotten, the government later sold the geothermal plant to the Lopez-owned EDC without consulting or giving the LGUs their share from the sale.

So, right now, the Mindanao Geothermal Plant is owned by a private corporation which is making use of the natural wealth of North Cotabato and Kidapawan.

The biggest insult is that while the province hosts the power-producing facility which generates 105-MW, it suffers from brownouts.

Unlike the more assertive Maranaos, however, the people of North Cotabato pay their bills and do not threaten to shoot the bill collectors.

This is where President Rody Duterte's advocacy for Federalism touches the cord of people who feel that they get a raw deal from the Central Government which behaves like it owns everything.

So now, would you still blame the Maranaos for not paying their bills?
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