COTABATO CITY is situated in the northwest portion of Maguindanao. It lies 7’138’44.02 North Latitude and 124’14’32.06 East Longitude It is approximately 689.9 nautical miles southeast of Manila and is more or less 220 kilometers away from Davao City. The city is bounded on the North by the municipality of Sultan Kudarat with Rio Grande de Mindanao as boundary; on the East by the municipality of Kabuntalan; on the South by the municipality of Dinaig, now Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao; and the Illana Bay on the West.
The city is situated in the lowest portion of Maguindanao province. The City of Cotabato with its 37 barangays spans an area with marked landscapes of flat, level to nearly level, very gently sloping to gently undulations to moderately sloping or rolling. It is basically a delta formed by two big rivers, the Tamontaka River and the Rio Grande de Mindanao. Basically 70% of its total land area is below sea level. There are only 2 existing elevated areas in the city, the PC Hill and the Timako Hill with an altitude of 90 and 150 feet, respectively.
Concentration of settlements and other urban uses are in the central portion while the southwestern and southeastern portion have mixed uses of agricultural land settlements. The city is criss-crossed by mendering and braided creeks and rivers like the Matampay, Parang, Timako, Esteros and Miwaruy.
These water bodies serve as sources of both agricultural, industrial and domestic water requirements of some rural barangays. These rivers also serve as the natural drainage flow of the city’s wastes.
The city’s climate belongs to the fourth type characterized by more or less even distribution of rainfall throughout the year. Dry season stretches from November to May with February as the driest month and June to October as its wettest months. Average temperature is placed at 25ºC and rainfall ranges from as low as 2.71 inches in February and as high as 10.88 inches in July, except from the variation caused by degrees of elevation, the temperatures throughout the area is not significantly different. Average annual rainfall in the city registers at 7.07 inches. No typhoon or other climatic disturbances of considerable impact was experienced as Cotabato City is located outside the typhoon belt and protected by hills and small mountains surrounding it. Occasional flooding however, do occur during the onset of heavy rains. The prevailing wind in the area comes from southeast and the relatively weak wind that sweeps the region makes the condition possible for the formation of thunderstorms which usually occur any time during the year, even during the dry season. The prevailing type of climate in the city favors the cultivation of rice, vegetables, root crops and legume.
Broadly, there are three (3) soil types present in the area. The most dominant soil type found in Cotabato which make up 80% of the total land area or 14.079 hectares is the Faraon clay type. These are moderately good lands suitable for limited cultivation and less appropriate for urban development due to soil characteristics. Urban development would require very careful, and complex soil utilization practices. This type is found in the innermost portion of the area, the Tamontaka clay type found in the areas along Rio Grande de Mindanao on the north and south directions total to 2,640 hectares or 15% of the city’s total land area. This type of soil has high fertility level, good lands which can be cultivated and suited for urban development but requires carefully, planned erosion control measures. The third type of soil embracing an area of 880 hectares or barely 5% of the city’s total land area is where settlements and other urban uses are highly concentrated. These are very good lands which can be cultivated safely and require very simple soil management practices and with high density for urban development.
The city has been identified to be within the earthquake belt. This was clearly demonstrated during the 1976 earthquake that caused vast destruction of lives and properties.
The susceptibility of the soils in the area to be eroded were those that are Erosion Potentials located along the banks of the Matampay River, Tamontaka River and the Rio Grande de Mindanao. Barangays located along low-lying areas occasionally experience flash floods brought about by heavy rains. It is also noted, however, that more than half of the city’s land area is below sea level, thus seemingly an appropriate drainage system could prevent flooding and clogging of waterways. Potential flooding areas are those found in almost all four directions in the north, south, east and west. The meandering and occasional braided courses of rivers like Rio Grande de Mindanao, Tamontaka River, Tarbung, Kakar, Matampay, Miwaruy, Masukul, Manday, Lugay-lugay, Bagua and Kalanganan Rivers and Pagalamatan Creek could aggravate the flooding hazards of the area where these rivers are found especially during rainy season. Approximately, 85% of the soils in the area have good external and internal drainage while the other 15% have poor external and internal drainage.
Another calamity that is feared by the residents is man-made caused by armed conflicts.