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ARMM Vice Gov Lucman warns of impending Mindanao crises

MASIDING NOOR YAHYA and TED KHAN R. JUANITE 
January 7, 2019

ARMM vice governor Haroun Alrashid A. Lucman, Jr.
MARAWI CITY: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Vice Gov. Haroun Alrashid Lucman warned that Mindanao could be affected by critical issues facing Lanao del Sur, foremost of which is the delay in Marawi City’s rehabilitation.

Lucman said that since strategically located Lanao del Sur is an integral part of Mindanao, the national government should not take it for granted.

In a talk with The Manila Times, Lucman said, “Contrary to what the spokesman of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) said that there is no humanitarian crisis in Marawi, there are now about 500,000 people displaced by the 2017 war who are mostly living in tents without adequate food and clean water supply.”

Lucman said the TFBM board had no Maranao member who could assist the task force in its work. “It’s the Luzon people who are mostly deciding for us.”

He added that the bulldozing of the houses in Ground Zero without consultation with owners had led to widespread dismay and anger among Marawi residents. The delayed rehabilitation had caused so much suffering and anxiety among the people who have already been scarred by war.

Lucman said that if the Marawi rehabilitation would not be carried out properly and as soon as possible, it would not be remote when the displaced people would force their own way into their destroyed homes.

“The situation could become violent and spread to other areas outside of Marawi,” he added.

The second burning issue is the rehabilitation of Lake Lanao. Thirty years from now, experts believe it will disappear and become a huge swathe of desolate land.

“If this happens, there will be a huge problem in the country’s economy,” Lucman said.

The domino effect that would follow from loss of the lake, would altogether shutdown all the seven Agus hydroelectric power plants from Marawi to Iligan City and cease to supply electricity in the Mindanao grid, he pointed out.

Since Mindanao contributes to the national power supply, the loss of power will bring down about 70 percent of businesses in Mindanao and will adversely affect others operating in Luzon and the Visayas.

According to Lucman, the Philippines largest freshwater lake can still be protected. He made Lake Lanao his thesis at the Ateneo de Manila and, has dived into one of its deep portions in 2010.

“We need to plant trees in the watershed areas around the lake. I started planting trees at Mount Gurain when I was regional vice governor but was only able to plant 100,000 fruit-bearing trees. The challenge is daunting, the cost is huge,” he said.

Lucman opposed the dumping of Ground Zero debris into the lake, as originally proposed by TFBM, which bared plans to reclaim about 35 hectares of the lake and use the debris as foundation material.

“I asked former peace process adviser Jesus Dureza to intervene and he talked to Secretary [TFBM head Eduardo] del Rosario. TFBM decided not to go on with their plan,” he said.

The official proposed the creation of a Ranao Development Authority that will check illegal logging, dredge the shallow areas, implement massive tree planting and construct protective walls in vulnerable areas to prevent eroded soil from moving into the lake.

In October 2018, he lobbied at the Senate for the protection of Lake Lanao, but there has been no action taken except for a visit by Sen. Richard Gordon, which according to Lucman, was simply a courtesy visit. (RSP)

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