Pres. Duterte agrees to issue E.O. authorizing BTA to exploit Liguasan Marsh

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao– President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to issue an executive order (EO) granting the Bangsamoro government "full" authority to explore and exploit natural resources in Liguasan Marsh, said a report by Rappler on Friday.

Liguasan (Ligawasan) Marsh is said to be rich in natural gas deposits.

"We have already discussed this with the President and we are waiting for the official executive order that will come from his office fully authorizing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to undertake exploration of the natural resources in the Liguasan Marsh," BARMM Chief Minister Al Haj Ahod (Murad) Ebrahim said before the Philippine Mining Club in Makati on Friday, August 9.

Ebrahim, speaking to Rappler on the sidelines of the event, said Duterte has given the greenlight for the proposed EO.

"In that meeting, he said he will instruct his [office] to make the executive order," said the Chief Minister.

During the July 10 meeting, Ebrahim explained to Duterte that the BTA needs the cooperation of the national government to explore fossil fuels in the region.

"We explained to him, maybe he has not fully comprehended the provision in the BOL that we cannot also, as far as strategic minerals like natural gas and oil, we cannot explore it alone. It has to be a joint effort by the national government and the Bangsamoro government," Ebrahim said.

Only with an EO can the BTA be given "full authority to restart exploration," he added.

Duterte has called on the Bangsamoro region to exploit resources in the Liguasan Marsh to generate funds the government can use for the development of the region, so long racked by violence and poverty.

He promised the national government would not take Liguasan Marsh's bounty.

"It will remain in your control and possession, but you just have to pay the taxes and the service that the government will spend. I promise you, and that's my commitment: It belongs to the Moro people," Duterte had said in June 2018.

The Liguasan Marsh is located in the Cotabato River basin in the plain areas of Central Mindanao, spread across the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat. (Source: Rappler)