Tuesday Nov, 29 2022 07:05:17 AM

Officials: Liguasan gas can make BARMM boom

Economic News • 16:00 PM Sun Sep 4, 2022
John M. Unson
 Gerry Salapuddin of SPDA and BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua met in Cotabato Thursday. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY --- Officials want natural resources in the Bangsamoro region harnessed soon for its communities to bounce back from poverty caused by decades of armed conflicts.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao covers a number of towns along central Mindanao’s Liguasan Delta, said to have natural gas deposit that foreign and local experts said is largest in Asia.

Gerry Salapuddin, administrator of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, or SPDA, and BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua talked about the potentials of the Liguasan Marsh during a meeting at the Bangsamoro capitol Thursday.

The 220,000-hectare delta, surrounded by the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, is a strong icon of central Mindanao’s ethnic Maguindanaon community.

Salapuddin, a supporter of the peace and development efforts of the fledgling BARMM government, told reporters Saturday his meeting with Macacua was full of insights on natural resources obtainable in the Bangsamoro region.

Macacua has persistently been telling reporters that the Liguasan Delta is a source of wealth for southern Mindanao’s Moro and settler communities.

“These natural resources are waiting to be tapped. Doing so can hasten peace and sustainable development in the autonomous region,” Salapuddin said.

There are residents in towns around the vast Liguasan Delta that drilled for water but got highly-combustible natural gas coming out of the artesian tubes that they pierced through the ground.

Researchers earlier attempted to do studies on oil deposits in the Sulu sea in the far south, but stopped on the behest of peace advocacy blocs and cause-oriented groups that wants such exploration done only after BARMM had fully taken off and with “joint imprimatur” from the Bangsamoro government and Malacañang.

Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are also component-provinces of BARMM.

Former environment officials of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, replaced with BARMM in 2019, had also confirmed long ago that there are gold and nickel deposits in certain areas in the neighboring Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, which are also inside the Bangsamoro core territory.

Macacua and Salapuddin, during their meeting, both acknowledged that the natural gas deposits in the Liguasan Delta in central Mindanao can generate revenues for the regional and national governments and provide employment to local residents.

The Liguasan Delta is a catch basin for more than a dozen large rivers that spring from watershed areas in mountain ranges in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and North Cotabato provinces and from Bukidnon in Region 10.

Salapuddin was reported by local broadcast outfits on Saturday to have assured the BARMM government, via Macacua, of SPDA’s readiness to support regional programs aiming to harness the natural resources in the autonomous region.

“Such ventures can address poverty and underdevelopment in some areas in BARMM,” Salapuddin said.

Salapuddin, while in Cotabato City Thursday, also met with BARMM’s education minister, Mohagher Iqbal.

Salapuddin was former chairman of the Basilan Revolutionary Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front in Basilan before he became governor of the island province and, subsequently, its representative to Congress.

He said cooperation between the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is essential in fostering lasting peace in conflict-wracked municipalities of BARMM.

The chief minister of BARMM, Ahod Ebrahim, is chairman of the MILF’s central Committee. 


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