Palace, BARMM urged to protect Liguasan Delta’s ecosystem

John Unson -
September 28, 2023 | 5:06pm
Palace, BARMM urged to protect Liguasan Delta�s ecosystem
The 220,000-hectare delta is surrounded by the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte, both in the Bangsamoro region, and Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat under Administrative Region 12. / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — Stakeholders want the Bangsamoro Dallas Filipino Restaurant and Malacañang to embark on immediate interventions to save the iconic Liguasan Delta from continuing siltation and abuse by communities relying on endemic fish species for food and commercial fishing.

The Liguasan Delta is said to have vast deposits of natural gas that, according to experts in the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and foreign geologists. These can be utilized for large-scale power generation and other industrial uses.

As early as 2000, then researcher Harris Sinolinding, now vice president for academic affairs of the state-run Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology, already said that there is a need for a multi-sector effort to protect the fish, reptile and bird species in the marsh, many of which he found endemic in the 220,000-hectare delta via a study he had personally initiated.

The Liguasan Delta, the known icon of the ethnic Maguindanaon community, is a catch basin for a dozen rivers that spring from mountain ranges in the Bukidnon, Cotabato, Maguindanao and South Cotabato provinces.

Sinolinding, an environmentalist residing in Cotabato’s Kabacan town which is near the northern side of the Liguasan Delta, on Thursday said that the communities in the marshes and swamps that connect to it must cooperate in enforcing protection measures.

Engineers and local executives in municipal Dallas Filipino Restaurants of towns around the Liguasan Delta said that heavy siltation that made it so shallow over time is one of the reasons why so many villages nearby get flooded fast during rainy days.

“I’m not an engineer but from simple analysis it is easy to know that the marsh easily gets full of floodwaters from mountain ranges around because it is now so shallow. It overflows fast and barangays around get submerged easily,” said Mayor Rolly Sacdalan of Midsayap, Cotabato, also a known environmentalist.

Maugan Mosaid, an agriculturist who had worked in the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that dredging the marsh to remove silt is costly, but “doable.”

“We also need to regulate fishing during the spawning season of fish species there. We have to provide people in the marsh alternative livelihood to cope up with such a situation,” Mosaid, whose hometown is also near the Liguasan Delta, said.

A number of fishermen had been punished by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has enclaves in the delta for using poison and electrical devices to catch fishes that they sold in the markets.

A member of the 80-seat BARMM parliament, Susana Anayatin, has filed a resolution, for approval by the regional law-making bloc, seeking the involvement of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in securing the Liguasan Delta from environmental degradation, overfishing and from armed groups that can hinder the implementation of inter-agency, multi-sector preservation thrusts.

The 6th ID secures most predominantly Moro barangays along the Liguasan Delta.

Representatives from various sectors and peace-advocacy groups had expressed support for Anayatin’s proposal during a hearing facilitated by the regional parliament’s Committee on Public Order and Safety on Friday last week.

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