January 21, 2012
STRESSING that Lake Lanao and its watersheds are now in the middle of an ecological crisis, Senator Loren Legarda is pushing for the creation of the Lake Lanao Development Authority.
Legarda said a 2006 study made by the Mindanao State University found that the Lake suffers from massive algae contamination brought about by indiscriminate logging, extensive land-use and farming.
She said the continued deterioration of Lake Lanao is most unfortunate, given its historical, cultural, economic and ecological importance to the country.
“Being the only ancient lake in the country, Lake Lanao is considered of prime ecological importance, which justified the establishment of the Lake Lanao Watershed way back in 1992 pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 871,” Legarda said.
Considered as part of their ancestral domain, she said Lake Lanao is also of significant historical and cultural importance to indigenous peoples, particularly the Maranaos who continue to live in areas surrounding the lake.
“It also plays an important role in securing Mindanao’s energy needs as it supplies water for six of its existing hydroelectric power plants, collectively responsible for 70 percent of the island’s energy needs,” Legarda added.
She pointed out that although the poor state of the Lake is attributed to man-made activity, this was further compounded by the absence of a clear framework in managing its water and watershed resources.
With this, Legarda filed Senate Bill 3097 that seeks to establish an effective policy and regulatory administration over Lake Lanao thru the Lake Lanao Development Authority, thereby ensuring the promotion and development of Mindanao’s important natural resource base in a sustainable manner.
“The Authority shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to issue Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs)/Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNCs) and grant permits for any projects or activities in or affecting the Lake Lanao Area. The proposed measure also aims to adopt the integrated water resources management to promote sustainable development in the same area,” she said.
Legarda added that the bill also seeks to create the Public Hearing Committee to strengthen Lake Lanao Development Authority’s ability to resolve disputes; and the Lanao Lake Police exclusively for the Lake Lanao Area trained especially for the enforcement of fisheries and environmental laws and the rules and regulations duly promulgated by the Authority.