The Office of the Governor denied allegations that the release of an excavation permit that would jumpstart a massive PhP1.5 billion water bulk and distribution project by Richli Corporation was “deliberately delayed.”
Governor Edgar Chatto during the Provincial Development Council (PDC) executive meeting on December 11, 2017 where top executives of Richli Corporation presented their project explained that the alleged “perceived delay” in the release of an excavation permit for the laying of pipes along 5.5 kilometers of provincial roads was due to the failure of the corporation to inform his office of the nature of their water venture.
Richli, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered corporation engaged in the bulk supply and distribution of water, plans to deliver much-needed potable water to an initial 90,000 water-starved residents in the island of Panglao and several barangays in Tagbilaran City sourced from Malingin River in Barangay Patrocino, Cortes, Bohol.
However, Atty. Eldrige Marvin Aceron, Richli corporate legal counsel told the Chronicle that a few hours before they learned of the approval of their excavation permit “they have decided to pursue other options” with regards to the route of the water pipes since the approval of the excavation permit remained uncertain as of Friday, December 15, 2017.
“Time was of the essence”, according to Aceron adding that they were running out of time with the expiration of their conditional NWRB permit on August, 2018 hounding their contractors and suppliers while the approval of the excavation permit remained uncertain.
The permit to excavate/install water pipes along provincial roads was approved by Chatto upon the recommendation of Provincial Engineer Gabino Redulla and issued upon the request of Elmer Lim, Vice President for Communications on Friday afternoon with a total of PhP60,986.00 permit fees paid on November 7, 2017.
The water pipes were allowed to traverse along/across the provincial roads in Balilihan-Corella road, Poblacion Cortes-junction Corella-Balilihan, Pob. (Corella) Pandol-Anislag-Monserrat (Cortes), Pandol-Fatima, Anislag-Kadliko-Kabawan and Anislag-Kadliko-Lourdes.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
During the PDC meeting with Richli executives on Monday, Chatto expressed elation over the revelations of the water company that they will be strictly observing the principle of “non-exclusivity” and their source conforms to the objective of the provincial government to tap the extensive surface water resources in the province.
Richli’s bulk and water distribution system was considered a different “modality” from the earlier purely bulk water proposals that led Chatto to request the Sangguniang Panglalawigan (SP) thru the PDC to adopt the presentation materials of Richli for the guidance of the provincial government.
According to Acting Vice Governor Vencenzio “Benjie” Arcamo, the SP approval for the adoption of Richli’s water supply and distribution system cleared any impediment to the approval of the project by the provincial government.
Chatto emphasized that since the approval of the Bohol Water Sanitation Project (BWSP) on January, 2017 “all water projects should pass review in the PDC to ensure that it will conform to the policy directions of the provincial government.
“Due diligence and transparency” were the main considerations that were observed during the vetting of project proposals of investors to ensure that these will reconcile with the development framework of the province in relation to the BWSP, according to Chatto.
The furor over the alleged “intentional delay” of the issuance of the excavation permit started when Richli Corp. sent a letter to Chatto requesting for the laying of pipes along the provincial road on September 28, 2017 and was received by the Office of the Governor on October 11, 2017.
On November 16, 2017, Chatto wrote Richli Corp. requesting for the submission of plans “for consistency in our development plans.”
But Richli Corp. “did not see the relevance” of Chatto’s request for copies of their project plans since the project is under the jurisdiction of the NWRB and an application for an excavation permit.
The requirement for the submission of project plans was a “mere afterthought” since these were not required from the very beginning, according to Richli Corp.
Chatto stood his ground and Richli accommodated his request to appear before the PDC to present their project plans.
ONE YEAR TO PROVIDE
A one-year conditional water permit (CWP No. 08-23-17-002) was approved by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on August 23, 2017 in an amount not exceeding 300.000 liters/second or 25,000 cubic meters/day with the diversion point located at Patrocinio, Cortes, Bohol. The conditional permit will expire on August 23, 2018.
According to Engr. Joffrey Hapitan, who designed, build and operate the Richli water system, tap water will start to flow from residents water faucets on or before July 1, 2018 from water pipes dug along the 32-kilometer route from Cortes, Tagbilaran City, Dauis and Panglao.
An initial PhP800 million has been set aside for the funding of phase 1 while PhP200 million has been spent for land and right of way acquisition, permits, detailed engineering design, construction of water treatment plant and purchase of pipes, according to Lim.
A 200 KVA standby generator will guarantee uninterrupted water supply during power interruptions similar to the recent earthquake that disrupted power supply in Leyte, the province major source of power.
With the woefully insufficient supply of water leaving areas of Tagbilaran City and major parts of Dauis and Panglao parched, Richli Corp. water project will provide fresh water piped from Cortes instead of water drawn from tainted wells. (Chito M. Visarra)