The government has finally decided to conserve Lake Lanao belonging to the Maranao tribe and the habitat for 18 endemic species of freshwater fish.
The decision came after a memorandum of agreement was signed last September 21 between the provincial government of Lanao del Sur and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Region 10 (DENR-10) in order for the lake “to meet its water requirements needed for hydropower, irrigation, fisheries and domestic uses and to sustain its biodiversity resources.”
The memorandum was signed by Lanao del Sur Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong and DENR -10 Director Ruth Tawantawan in formal rites held at Sulu Riviera Hotel in Diliman, Quezon City.
The signatories pledged strong partnership in conserving and developing the controversial lake.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by DENR Secretary Regina Lopez, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Abul Khayr Alonto and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman, among others.
The memorandum stipulates implementation of parts of the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Program (INREMP) with funds obtained through a loan grant of $100 million from the Asian Development Bank and co-financing of SDR 13.25 million from the International Fund for Agriculture Development.
Aside from Lake Lanao Basin in Mindanao, the INREMP also covers other three upper river basins in the country–Chico River Basin in Northern Luzon, Wahig-Inabanga in Central Visayas and Upper Bukidnon River Basin, also in Mindanao region.
The program is also designed to support reforestation, climate change mitigation and livelihood measures in the four basins.
Lopez said the implementation of INREMP in Lanao del Sur will be started after six months to be supervised jointly by the provincial government and the DENR-10.
Adiong thanked the Duterte administration for realizing the project that has been longed for by the Maranaos for more than a decade.
She said the lake, locally known as Ranao, is not merely for the Maranaos but for the entire country as the lake is the main source of six hydroelectric plants situated at the lake’s outlet Agus River, which supplies about 60 percent of power to the Mindanao region.
Ranao was coined from the term Meranao, which means people of the lake.
The Meranao or Maranao have been asserting their rights to the lake for decades.
The lake was also once known as Sultan Alauya Alonto Lake.