Talibon Bohol Dam Scandal Under Aumentado's Reign

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Talibon Bohol Dam Scandal Under Aumentado's Reign
« on: December 07, 2011, 07:25:31 PM »
By Bohol Standard

The controversy-ridden Small River Impounding Project (SRIP) in Talibon town will be finally commissioned next week to irrigate some 1,500 hectares of rice lands in said town.

In a press statement, Second District Rep. Erico Aumentado announced recently that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has been invited to lead the dam’s inauguration in barangay Zamora, Talibon.

It may be recalled that graft charges were filed by the group Boholanos Against Corruption and Social Harassment (Bacosh) – led by Engr. Petronilo Sarigumba, a former NIA official, and lawyer Artemio Cabatos – against five National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials in 2004 in connection with the Talibon irrigation project after its funding of P165-million have been depleted although its actual civil works was found to be “less than half-completed.”

But in 2008, after a long battle against NIA officials charged at the Ombudsman, the charges of alleged anomalies were dismissed for “lack of substantial basis”.

The Talibon irrigation project had been christened by anti-graft groups as NIA’s “ghost dam” which caught national prominence through various investigative exposes and reports.

Based on its revised approved budget for contract, the Talibon SRIP costs a total of P243 million.

Even though charges against the five NIA officials, which included Engr. Calixto Seroje, who was then the project’s manager, were dismissed, public opinion largely disagreed with the Ombudsman ruling.

The project’s inauguration has been temporarily set on November 25 depending on Secretary Alcala’s availability.

Completion of the Talibon SRIP was made under the administration of Engr. Modesto Membreve who served as the Talibon SRIP project manager, after he also completed the Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, another controversial project which was questioned by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).

Bayongan Dam now irrigates some 5,300 hectares of rice land in the second district.

“If Alcala can sleep over, I invited him to also lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bayongan Dam mini- hydroelectric power plant to be established in Barangay Buenavista in Ubay town by the SunWest Power Corp., in coordination with NIA and the Department of Energy under the public-private partnership concept and government convergence strategy that President Aquino espouses,” Aumentado’s press statement said.

He added that an extended stay will also allow the secretary to visit the proposed Bohol Northeast Basin Multi-Purpose Dam to irrigate about 19,000 hectares of rice land and generate some 10 kilowatts of power, considering its huge reservoir that will tap a natural depression in public land nestled in the common boundary of Carmen, Dagohoy, Danao and San Miguel towns.

“An access road is already under construction by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as support infrastructure for that project for which I have requested the Korean International Cooperation Agency (Koica) to provide a grant for its feasibility study and detailed engineering design,” Aumentado said.

The irrigation water stored in the Bayongan and Malinao reservoirs has been significant in the success of the ongoing rice ratooning program that allowed Boholano farmers in the service area to produce a third cropping in a year that Aumentado has been supporting with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) through his Plant Hybrid Rice-Pay Later and Fertilize Now-Pay Later programs in the second district.

Aumentado said he also allocated funds from his PDAF to cover part of the local government unit (LGU) counterpart fund for a tractor pool that can be utilized in the hybrid corn production in the province. (With reports from Angeline Valencia)

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