COTABATO CITY: Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. has vowed to prevent the transfer of a proposed P300-million Marawi sanitary landfill project to a lakeshore village, citing a recent finding by an inspection team pointing to the same site as a source of fresh drinking water to three adjoining barangays.
“I sent last Monday a team to inspect the proposed new site. And the team led by my provincial environment officer and accompanied by (PIO) Jennie (Alonto-Tamano) found that the site abounds with springs serving as major fresh drinking water not only among the people of Barangay Sugod Proper but also for two adjoining villages,” Gov. Adiong told the Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news in the vernacular over the phone on Wednesday.
In a video clip produced by residents, who staged a similar site inspection with the company of the city vice mayor and representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the two adjoining villages sourcing out drinking water from the Sugod Proper springs as Barangays Pugaan and Patani.
In two earlier interviews with the PMT, Gov. Adiong appeared assertive just for a conduct of decisive meeting among protesting residents, the city government, the DENR and its Environment Management Bureau (EMB), the provincial government and the Bangsamoro autonomous government’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) to decide once and for all the controversial project transfer.
The governor was earlier suspicious of gray areas in the arrangement between the city government and the EMB-DENR in transferring the project site from distant Barangay Malimono to Sugod Proper, on questions of jurisdiction over ecology of Lake Lanao and its tributary rivers and springs between the DENR and the MENRE.
The supervision over Lake Lanao and surrounding watersheds has been devolved by the national government from the DENR to the MENRE. Under R.A. 11054 (Bangsamoro region’s charter), Lake Lanao, in its facet as source of hydroelectricity, will have to be “co-managed” by the national government and the autonomous entity.
Gov. Adiong said some leaders of protesting Sugod proper residents met him early this month, and complained of alleged lack of popular consultation in the passage last January 8 by the city legislature (Sangguniang Panglungsod) a resolution authorizing the transfer of the project site to Sugod Proper.
Official data showed the SP resolution was received on January 14 by the EMB-DENR Region 10 office in Cagayan de Oro City, and was approved on January 19 by DENR Undersecretary Jim Sampulna, a point person of his agency to the Task Force Bangong Marawi (TFBM) projects involving environmental concerns.
Gov. Adiong said he or his office has no prior knowledge about the proposed transfer until the controversy became an issue that went viral in the social media sometime in the first week of last month.
The governor hinted that he was not only concerned about environmental issues and jurisdictional questions over the site transfer, but also personally because Barangay Sugod Proper is a native home place of his late father, Lanao del Sur former Governor and Congressman Mamintal Adiong Sr.
During the lifetime of the deceased former governor, he had initiated a plan to establish a village-level water district system in Barangay Sugod Proper, residents recalled.
The debate between dissenters and supporters of the project site transfer in the social media has drawn attention from outspoken former Lanao del Sur Congressman Benasing Macarambon Jr., who urged Gov. Adiong to impose his jurisdiction over the issue, saying that Marawi is a “component city” of the province.
“This (project controversy) is one issue you and the provincial board can put your weight on. This proposal will affect the lake and the inhabitants around the lake. This should STOP at its inception,” Macarambon urged Gov. Adiong.
The same debate also compelled a member of the Tanggote family, owner of the 31.7-hectare land in Malimono that the DENR bought at P60-million as initial area for the 5-hectare requirement for the proposed sanitary landfill project, to bat in for clarification of the issue.
Aisah Tanggoto-Mangoda, a member of the lot-owner family and holding a special power of attorney, recalled in two phone interviews with the PMT, that her clan was sought in early 2019 by then DENR-Region 10 Executive Director Sabdullah “Boy” Abubakar to help his agency scout for a P50-hectare “clean titled” land in Barangay Malimono as site for the proposed P300-million sanitary landfill project.
Mangoda said Director Abubakar told her family that the DENR was willing to buy the land at P500 per square meter.
She said her family prepared the documentations of the land holdings that initially reached 31.7 hectares with the technical description map duly approved by MENRE Minister Abdulraof Macacua, who ostensibly made the approval on the premise that the Bangsamoro government has already acquired jurisdiction over Marawi City and Lanao Sur.
Because Director Abubakar had retired for mandatory age requirement, the negotiations for purchase of the 31.7-hectare land were pursued by succeeding Executive Director Arleigh Adorable, through her EMB-10 OIC-Director Reynaldo Digamo, Mangoda said.
Mangoda claimed that Digamo bargained for the decrease of the P500 per square meter price ceiling by the DENR, and that her the extra 1.7-hectare of the 30-hectare be given to his team as “gift.”
“Because our family was desirous for the success of the project to generate employment among fellow residents in MBarangay Malimono, we settled for the bargains, and constituted a deed of conditional sale (in August 2019),” Mangoda said in mixed Pilipino and Maranao dialect.
A copy of the conditional deed of sale, Mangoda shared with the PMT, stated the 25 per cent or P15-million of the agreed P60-million “will be paid by the buyer (DENR) to the seller (Tanggote family) upon the execution of this agreement.”
“The remaining 75% or P45-million will be paid by the buyer upon release of issuance of notice of cash allotment for the purpose of payment of the obligation of the buyer under this deed of conditional sale,” the document added.
Tanggote said the full payment of the P60-million was made by the DENR in February 2020 under an absolute deed of sale.
In July 2020, OIC-Director Digamo issued a public notice inviting prospect land owners to sell to the EMB-DENR a 20-hectare land “for the expansion of the future expansion of Category 4, Sanitary Landfill for Marawi City,” another document given to the PMT by Manogda showed.
Among other criteria in Digamo’s public notice, the 20-hectare extension land “must be adjacent” to the 30-hectare already bought in Baranay Malimono, the document showed.
Mangoda heeded again the EMB-DENR notice and offered to sell additional 20 hectares, though openly admitting in a signed document that part of the new offer are located in the adjacent Kapai town in Lanao del Sur.
She said the EMB-DENR through Digamo rejected her family’s new offer. But she said her family was surprised to learn later that the city government and the EMB-DENR were already trying to close a purchase deal on a 20-hectare land lakeshore Barangay Sugod Proper, which is two barangays away from Malimono.
(Ali G. Macabalang/PMT/SRNY/RSP)