Tag Archives: natural resources

OPINION | By the Numbers: What’s so precious in Muslim Mindanao?

Ferdinand G. Mendoza
February 14, 2015

When you get tired of reading articles and opinions about freedom, self-determination, revolutionary ideals, and similar stuff or anything conceptual about the Mamasapano carnage — the number of people killed, as can be accurately gleaned, is 44 Special Action Forces commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and five civilians — ask yourself:

Is it really a case of terrorism? What is in Maguindanao — or Muslim Mindanao, for that matter — that is so precious, groups and countries would kill for it?

Mamasapano, the town where the carnage occurred, lies in Maguindanao, one of five provinces (including parts of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat) that straddle the Cotabato River Basin.

Spanning 456,000 hectares, the Cotabato River Basin is one of 15 energy blocks identified by the Department of Energy as a source of oil and natural gas.

Gas, diesel fuel

In 2011, the DOE reported that the estimated amount of oil and natural gas in the Basin can produce 202 million barrels of crude oil and at least 821 billion cubic feet of gas.

One barrel is equivalent to 159 liters of crude oil. Typically, one barrel can produce 72 liters of gasoline and 45 liters of diesel fuel.

Thus, 202 million barrels of crude oil is equivalent to almost 14.5 trillion liters of gasoline and 9.1 trillion liters of diesel fuel.

The average car consumes about 12 kilometers to a liter of gasoline. To burn 14.5 trillion liters of gasoline, a car will have to run 174 trillion kilometers — enabling its driver to encircle the Earth 4.3 million times!

But since all cars have a period of obsolescence — usually five years — the 14.5 trillion liters of gasoline can fuel 50,000 cars consuming one liter to 12 kilometers, running at a constant speed of 80 kilometers per hour for five years, 24/7.

Hungry kids

Sold at current gasoline prices, pegged at say P36/liter, the 14.5 trillion liters of gasoline that can be extracted from the Cotabato River Basin would amount to P522 trillion.

Of course, the entire gas deposits could not be translated into such a lump sum. But imagine how P522 trillion could change the lives of our children.

Government figures estimate that some 15 million Filipino children today are either hungry and/or malnourished.

The Department of Education’s school feeding program has a budget of P16 per child, multiplied by 120 feeding days. This adds up to about P1,920 per child.

According to DepEd, the 120-day feeding program targets the restoration of at least 70 percent of beneficiaries to their normal nutritional status and the improvement of class attendance by 85-100 percent.

If we could allocate the money that will be generated by the crude oil from the Cotabato River Basin (P522 trillion) to the feeding of hungry and malnourished children (at P16 per child x 365 days), we will be able to properly feed those 15 million hungry and malnourished children for six years!

More oil

Another area identified for exploration is in the Sulu Sea covering 432,000 hectares, with water depths ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 meters.

According to the DOE, of the eight wells drilled in the Sulu Sea, “five show significant oil and gas deposits.” This area has around 209 million barrels of oil and 716 billion cubic feet of gas.

It is estimated that natural gas deposits in Sultan Sa Barongis in Maguindanao alone would be enough to fuel a 60-megawatt combined cycle power plant for 20 years.

Crude oil is also transformed into an infinite variety of products like petrochemicals, for example.

Petrochemicals are responsible for products we use every day: antihistamine, shampoo, lotion, food preservatives, computers, toothpaste, syringes, and toys, among others.

In 2012, as the government and MILF reached an agreement to create the Bangsamoro, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, President Benigno Aquino III halted all oil exploration projects in Mindanao. The reason: There has not been a final agreement on wealth sharing.

But it seems this wealth sharing problem has been resolved in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the draft of which was finalized in 2014.

In Section 32 of the BBL on sharing in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resource, the Central Government’s income from taxes shall be derived from the exploration, development and utilization of all natural resources within the Bangsamoro.

The allocation shall be as follows, to quote:

“For non-metallic minerals (sand, gravel, and quarry resources), such revenues shall pertain fully to the Bangsamoro and its local government units
For metallic minerals, seventy-five percent (75%) shall pertain to the Bangsamoro
For fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) and uranium, the same shall be shared equally between the Central and Bangsamoro Governments.

Such sharing scheme shall be applicable to the natural resources found in the land mass that comprise the Bangsamoro territory as well as the waters that are within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro.”

In a press conference in 2012, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad said: “We are not against exploitation of our natural resources, including oil and gas, provided that they redound to the benefit of our people.”

All this talk about Mamasapano and the SAF44 has made me curious and so engrossed with numbers. Much of this curiosity has been satisfied with just a little digging via the friendly Google — today’s ultimate source of knowledge.

There are many stories still to be told about the long and bloody conflict in Mindanao. Mamasapano will not be the last time blood will be spilled for as long as there is a war in the Southern Philippines.

Let us honor the Valiant44 who died by not reducing the Mamasapano carnage into a costly distraction vis-a-vis the real issues and problems that grip Mindanao’s present and future.


House OKs nationwide cadastral survey

March 17, 2012
By Charlie V. Manalo

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill authorizing the Land Management Bureau (LMB) to conduct a nationwide cadastral survey to curb the proliferation of fake land titles.

House Bill 5870 authored by San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito aims to restore the integrity of land titles by identifying bonafide landowners and claimants.

Ejercito said land owners must be protected against defective titles. The integrity of the Torrens Title System, as a foundation of ownership to real property must be enhanced, so that in the end, the faith and reliance of the people on the integrity of the land title will be restored.

Under the measure to be known as the “Cadastral Survey Act of 2012,” the LMB is authorized to conduct a survey of the entire country.

The survey shall consist of research and reconnaissance; establishment recovery and densification of project control and political boundary surveys.

Survey activities further include lot surveys, inspection, verification and approval of survey returns.

The LMB is mandated to award any survey contract, subject to applicable bidding rules and regulations, to qualified geodetic engineers engaged in survey work with the most advantageous terms to the government.

The bill directs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to include in its program the implementation of this Act and the inclusion of its funding in the annual general appropriations.

The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House committee on natural resources chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas.

The co-authors of the measure are Matugas and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya.

4 international agencies study Mindanao mountain

By Rudy A. Fernandez
The Philippine Star
April 03, 2011

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna , Philippines  — Four international agencies have joined hand to undertake a study on the biodiversity of Mt. Malindang in Misamis Occidental.

Started last February, the two-year research and development (R&D) project is titled “Ridge to Reef: An Ecosystem-based Approach to Biodiversity Conservation and Development in the Philippines.

It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Los Baños-based, Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO SEARCA), Malaysia-based WorldFish Center (WFC), and Kenya-based World Agroforestry Center (WAC).

The project addresses key issues affecting Mt. Malindang and its environs, which are regarded as among the country’s “biodiversity hotspots” and a priority national protected area.

Also tagged as “extremely high priority” under the National Biodiversity Study Action Plan (NBSAP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the mountain is traversed by two rivers (Jangaran and Layawan) that connect its watersheds to the coastal systems.

Langaran River supplies irrigation water to adjacent farmlands but is threatened owing to prevalent quarrying and illegal fishing. In contrast, Layawan River is regarded as the “cleanest and greenest river” both at the national and regional levels.

“The unique features and status of Mt. Malindang make it a strategic site for piloting and modifying biodiversity measures,” SEARCA said.

SEARCA, headed by Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., is one of the 20 “centers of excellence” of SEAMEO, an intergovernment treaty organization founded in 1965 to foster cooperation among Southeast Asian nations in the fields of education, science, and culture.

The center had earlier been involved in the “Biodiversity for Research Program Focus on Mt. Malindang” done in 2001-2005 with funding support from the Netherlands government and in partnership with various institutions in the area.

The “Ridge to Reef” project has eight components, including watersheds, effects of agriculture and forestry on coastal aquatic ecosystem, management of critical coastal habitats, capture fisheries, alternative livelihoods for coastal people, resource use and mapping, and capacity building in biodiversity.

“Mt. Malindang is viewed to serve as a model site of a complex environment integrated in one framework for a more sustainable biodiversity conservation,” SEARCA said.

MRDP to revive critical watersheds in Mindanao

The Philippine Star
By Sherwin B. Manual
March 13, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is rehabilitating major watersheds critical to the effort to boost food production in Mindanao.

The Mindanao Rural Development Prog-ram (MRDP), the DA’s flagship poverty alleviation program, is implementing on-the ground investments to salvage the degrading natural resources in Mindanao, particularly watershed.

Program director Lealyn A. Ramos said these watersheds have great agricultural potentials but are now less productive since they have been overly exploited and misused.

“Watershed sustains life form of plants, animals and human. And aside from providing water, it’s also the source of fiber, food, medicine and livelihoods but most of our watersheds are exploited beyond their capacity,” Ramos added.

To program is implementing environmental projects in 12 critical watersheds in all of the six regions in Mindanao.

These watersheds include RT Lim and Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay in Region 9; Linamon, Lanao del Norte and Sogbongcogon, Misamis Oriental in Region 10; Don Marcelino, Davao del Sur and San Isidro, Davao Oriental in Region 11; Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat and Malapatan, Sarangani Province in Region 12; Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte in Caraga Region and  Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao and Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“The sites were selected based certain criteria but most especially the interconnectivity of the upland, the lowland and the coastal areas,” Ramos said.

The program allocates a total of P7 million for each town beneficiary.

The projects implemented are agro-reforestation, river bank stabilization, mangrove rehabilitation, establishment of marine protected area, fish sanctuary and fishery reserves and coral restoration.

Ridge to reef

With focus on Mt. Hamiguitan in San Isidro, Davao Oriental watershed, the ridge-to-reef landscape is expected to nurture more diverse flora and fauna as the local government and MRPD implement a 136-hectare watershed rehabilitation with rubber-based farming on hilly lands amounting to close to P5 million. While, P2 million were earmarked on the coastal areas projects which include 7.5-hectare mangrove rehabilitation and setting up of five hectares fish sanctuary and marine reserves.

The Mt. Hamiguitan mountain range and wild life sanctuary was declared protected area under RA 9303 of 2002. It is home to Mandaya tribe, the Philippine Eagle, important raw materials and some highly prized natural bonsai forming the popular “pygmy forest.”

About three communities in Linamon town have engaged in agroforestry conservation and ecotourism development for its 12 hectares forest cover which house the one of province’s tourist spot the Tinago Falls.

The town of Don Marcelino has completed its 200-hectare Nuvada Watershed reforestation and has another on-going project.

Similarly, RT Lim town has completed the 100-hectare reforestation activities.

The coastal community of Kalamansig is now rearing mangroves planted to its 20 hectares coastal area which is part of its P2 million mangrove rehabilitation project.

The 100-hectare agro-reforestation program in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte is now thriving and the community is seeing the promise of its fruit trees.

While ARMM has planted various fruit-bearing trees in 128-hectare area in the mountains of Datu Odin Sinusat town and mangroves in a 15-hectare coast line.

Holistic approach

“We aim to holistically arrest the environmental problem. We know that activities in the upland areas have downstream impact in the low land communities and the coastal areas,” said Ramos.

“We started to implement these projects in 2008 and most of these hard investments were reported to be complete but we need to wait for the full gestation period to really see the impacts of these,” Ramos said noting that the program and the LGU beneficiaries are positive about the initial results of their efforts.

The report of the Bureau of Water and Soils Management (BSWM) said that in these watersheds, the soils, land and water resources are overly exploited resulting to low productivity of various farm areas.

BSWM is one of the attached agencies of the Program tasked to undertake technical support for the program along with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“With appropriate land use technology and farming systems we can revive the agricultural potential of these watersheds,” said Ramos, adding that:

“This (project) is in partnership with the LGUs. Aside from having direct helm of project implementation the vital role of the LGU is legislation the necessary ordinances to sustain and protect upland, lowland and coastal resources.”

Tagum: From rural area to boom city

Inquirer Mindanao
By Frinston Lim
February 19, 2011

CLAD IN a white shirt, shorts and sneakers, the diminutive man stops by one of the barbecue stalls along the clogged Quezon Street in Tagum City, where long tables and smoking grills cluttered the otherwise wide, clean-swept place during an ordinary night.

He waves to the crowd of uniformed students and workers having dinner and many of them call back, inviting. He politely declines.

Some from the crowd call him by his nickname, “Chiong Oy,” and he doesn’t mind at all. There’s really nothing to fuss about being called such, he says. Even if he is Rey Tao Uy, the mayor of Davao del Norte’s capital city, one of Mindanao’s newest bustling urban centers.

“I’m just a simple person. I’m more comfortable at being ordinary,” the 56-year-old businessman-turned-politician says.

Since its first days as a city in 1998, the agriculture graduate has been at the helm of the former marshy municipality that used to be safe haven of communist rebels, and where solvent-sniffing juveniles terrorized residents with crude knives and barbecue sticks.


The transformation of the rural capital into a booming metropolis in just over a decade was largely under Uy’s administration. Making a comeback in 2004 after being defeated by the veteran Boholano Gelacio “Yayong” Gementiza (who would later become governor of Davao del Norte), the Chinese mestizo stamped his own brand of leadership in Tagum.

“A no-nonsense governance and strong political will that shaped what is now Tagum,” according to Ped Velasco, a newspaperman covering Davao region since the 1970s.

“The development of Tagum speaks a lot about who really the man is. If he did not become a mayor and instead chose to continue being a businessman, Tagum wouldn’t look like what it is now, developed,” Velasco says.

He narrates how he used to see the young Chiong Oy back in the days tending the family’s store at the Magugpo (Tagum’s former name) poblacion in what is now Roxas Street. Even back then, he says, Uy was known already for being simple and friendly man.

Uy began his political career in 1988 when he represented the then undivided Davao del Norte’s second district in the provincial board.

At a young age, he was already taught by his parents to be resilient and resourceful—traits which became helpful when he plunged into politics and was elected to govern a city of 200,000 and with scare natural resources, Velasco says.

Politician’s traits

“Manage properly and efficiently whatever you have right now,” the mayor says on how he realized those traits as a politician. “Run your city as if you’re managing an enterprise.”

He calls that kind of leadership as corporate governance. Effective utilization of resources and efficient delivery of services are not just bywords. These are the mantra.

“Since we’re not blessed with rich natural resources like gold or tourist spots compared to our neighboring local government units (LGUs) like Compostela Valley or Davao City, what we do is we create situations in such a way that businesses could thrive,” Uy says. The same concept, he adds, serves as the driving force behind the progress of the small state of Singapore.

The city government under Uy sees to it that projects and programs are effectively and efficiently implemented. All infrastructure projects are being done by administration to eliminate corruption.

The city’s equipment and facilities are properly managed and well-maintained. Raw materials for concreting and other road projects are produced by the city’s asphalt mixing plant, thereby reducing considerably the cost of road and drainage projects.

The city also offers its equipment and services to other LGUs like Davao City, providing additional revenues to the city coffers. Tong-pats (grease money to contractors) and shakedowns are a no-no.

“We saved so much (government money) by eliminating corruption,” he says.

Strategic location

Being at the center of two intersecting national roads, Tagum’s strategic location attracts an influx of visitors virtually all times of the year. The Pan-Philippine Highway cuts through the city from north to south while the Davao-Mati road snakes to its west.

With this, Uy says he sees to it the city has enough good facilities to cater to the demands of visitors so to attract investments and revenue.

Millions of pesos were invested to the city’s drainage system to arrest the perennial flooding that used to hit the city proper during rainy months.

Adding to come-ons to local and foreign tourists is a slew of festivals (an average of 14 a year), showcasing the city’s rich culture, tradition and, of course, delicious fruits.

The city is also known of its improved peace and order situation. The place, in most parts, has been spared from bombings, kidnappings and other terror attacks plaguing other cities in Mindanao.