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Environment MILF’s new ‘war’

Cotabato City—War is most destructive to the environment, but in peace the Moro Islamic Liberation Front turns to being a leading steward of Mother Earth.

Minister Abdulrauf Macacua of the Ministry of the Environment Natural Resources and Energy stressed this point last weekend to environmental planners who vowed to help the people of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Muslim Mindanao achieve their development goals, beginning with the current three-year watch of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

Macacua had been the Armed Forces chief of staff of the MILF, which is now being transformed into a governing organization—from being an armed revolutionary group—as part of the Normalization Process provided under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Environmental planning is a profession allied with the specialized disciplines of Urban and Regional Development Planning, with a postgraduate board examination offered by the Professional Regulations Commission.

Nulfarid Ampatuan, chief of the Maguindanao Provincial Planning Office, said the local chapter of the Philippine Institute for Environmental Planners for Maguindanao and Cotabato City was established in 2017 in a bid to pool professional expertise in diverse technical fields that would boost planning services for this city and Maguindanao.

Local environmental planners face a tough challenge, with large parts of the Bangsamoro waters (up to 22.24 kilometers off coastlines) now being heavily polluted.

Domestic non-biodegradable waste end up being dumped on both the Iranun (Illana) Bay and Moro Gulf, and offshore vessels conveniently unload tons of garbage along the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi.

Some forums at community dialogue-series on environmental issues have suggested that the provincial governments of Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi consider commissioning wooden-hulled boats as garbage vessels for parts of Iranun Bay and Moro Guld, as well as one or two designated along the Subutu Strait, both being parts of BARMM.

Environmental planner Celestino Desamito, the PIEP national representative, recently inducted officers for the local chapter. In 2016, the PRC named Desamito the country’s Most Outstanding Environmental Planner.

Macacua, for his part, assured the young professionals here he would be at the forefront of a new MILF struggle as the “protector of the environment.”

In Muslim Scriptures, the concept of stewardship begins with God’s plan to create man as Khalifa (Steward) of all His creation.

Macacua called on stakeholders here to uphold that role, particularly the young professional planners, to get involved in crafting the blueprint on the sustainable use of the BARMM natural resources.

Added to the challenge of sea garbage dumping is the equally unabated use of wet-cell battery water electrocution for fishing on marshes and streams by unscrupulous inland-water fishers. The practice is often described as the massacre of inland-water species.

In his message, BTA Interim Parliament Member Atty. Suharto Ambolodto said planners should pursue their vital role in efforts to help reduce poverty in some part of BARMM, which is composed of Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Lamitan and Marawi, and 64 villages in North Cotabato.

He said planners must be catalysts in understanding the local situations and in crafting better plans. 

Also present during the event is BIAF-MILF Spokesperson Von Al Haq, who encouraged environmental planners to volunteer in helping the Bangsamoro ARMM, particularly in crafting development plans.

He also challenged the PIEP-Cotabato and Maguindanao Chapter to aspire to become the most active chapters of the institute.

Topics: Moro Islamic Liberation Front , Abdulrauf Macacua , Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Muslim Mindanao
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