Press Release
August 20, 2007

Loren wants special body to look after RP's 2nd largest lake

Sen. Loren Legarda is batting for new legislation seeking to establish a special agency that would look after Lake Lanao, the country's second largest inland body of freshwater, and a vital part of the powerful river system that generates the bulk of Mindanao's electricity.

Situated 702 meters above sea level in Lanao del Sur province, Lake Lanao is fed by four rivers, covers an area of 355 square kilometers and has a depth of 60 to 112 meters.

Lake Lanao is the country's second largest after the 950-square kilometer, two-meter deep Laguna Lake, situated between the provinces of Laguna and Rizal.

Lake Lanao's only outlet is the Agus River, which flows southwest into Iligan Bay via two channels, one over the Maria Cristina Falls and the other over the Linamon Falls.

A massive hydropower plant -- supplying 70 percent of the electricity consumed by the people of Mindanao -- is totally dependent on Lake Lanao and the Agus River system.

Lake Lanao is also home to 18 endemic species of freshwater fish and supports a large number of waterfowl. Fishing communities likewise thrive around the lake, which is a major source of livelihood.

"Lake Lanao and the water systems around it are definitely of strategic value -- both economically and environmentally -- to Mindanao," Legarda stressed.

"Thus, we need a special body that would look after the lake, to ensure that it is adequately protected at all times, and properly managed and developed. This way, future generations may continue to benefit from the lake's resources," Legarda said.

Under Senate Bill 229, authored by Legarda, the Lake Lanao Development Authority would be established under the Office of President.

The agency's first order of business would be to draw up a comprehensive and detailed Lake Lanao Development Plan.

Among other responsibilities, the agency would exercise rights over public water in the lake, require surrounding cities and municipalities to adopt appropriate zoning and regulatory measures, and control industrial, agricultural and municipal waste discharges into the lake.

The tax-exempt agency would enjoy corporate powers and functions. A seven-member board of directors, the majority of whom must be residents of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, would govern the agency.

The agency would have an authorized capital of P2 billion, of which P1 billion would be subscribed by the provinces, cities and municipalities in the area, and at least 25 percent subscribed by the national government.

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