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Bangsamoro Parliament bill declares Balobok Cave in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi a heritage site

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DAVAO CITY—A Bangsamoro Parliament member has filed a bill to declare a cave in Tawi-Tawi a heritage site for being one of the earliest settlements in Southeast Asia.

Member of Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil said the Balobok Cave in Bongao, Tawi- Tawi, should be preserved, promoted and developed as a heritage zone.

According to the bill’s explanatory note, “The cave is found to be one of the earliest human settlements in Southeast Asia, dating back to 8,000 years ago.”

“Because of excavation efforts in the area, ancient artifacts such as earthenware shards, polished stones, and bone tools were discovered there,” it added.

During the war waged by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the cave also served “as a natural shelter for the combatants in the 1970s.”

“Due to the significance of this archaeological site, it is only natural for the Bangsamoro government to preserve, protect, promote, and develop the Balobok Cave,” Mawallil said.

He filed Bangsamoro Transition Authority Bill No. 197, also known as the Balobok Cave Preservation Act of 2020.

Balobok Cave, located in Barangay Lakit-Lakit in Bongao town, is a rock formation that forms part of a cave system situated along the coast, he said.

Under the measure, the Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (BCPCH) and the Environment ministry would be in charge of protecting, developing, and promoting the cave site.

A comprehensive plan for its preservation, protection, rehabilitation, infrastructure installation, development into ecotourism, management and maintenance will also be formulated by the BCPCH, Ministry of Environent and Natural Resources, Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism and the Tawi- Tawi Provincial Government.

A regional heritage zone refers to historical, anthropological, and artistic geographic areas that are culturally significant to the Bangsamoro region, Mawallil said.

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