NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
The majority of the town mayors in the second congressional district of Bohol expressed alarm on the plan to construct a multi-billion irrigation project which will displace hundreds of residents in at least two municipalities.
The concerted effort of the town executives reached the Chronicle yesterday while they cited the waste of money in the construction of three huge irrigation dams in the previous years that have not irrigated the rice lands supposedly to benefit from the water coming from the dams.
The stand of the mayors was confirmed by San Miguel Mayor Virgilio “Dodong” Mendez when asked about this move to appeal for “small scale irrigation” instead of having billion worth irrigation dams.
They mentioned the proposed Bohol Northeast basin Multi-purpose Dam for irrigation and hydropower plant.
The main purpose of this dam is to provide irrigation services for the farmers in the municipalities of Danao, San Miguel, Bien Unido, Trinidad, Dagohoy and Ubay, irrigating about 19,017 ha.
The mayors who are objecting in this gigantic project said it has been proven the existing dams, namely, the Malinao Dam in Pilar, Capayas Dam and the Bayongan dam have failed to meet the demands of the farmers for irrigation to their farmland.
The dams cost the government billions of pesos to construct.
Malinao Dam in Pilar, has been operating since 1988 but has not supplied enough water to irrigate its service area of 4,960 hectares, Bayongan Dam, 5,300 hectares while the Capayas Dam in Talibon has been serving the 750 hectares of farmlands.
Mayor Mendez said to the Chronicle that these second district mayors were never consulted regarding the proposed Bohol Northeast basin dam.
A highly placed source told the town mayors that the project would entail some $180 million in loans while its feasibility study would already cost $5 million.
The town mayors will formalize their appeal this week in order to sound off their objection on having these expensive dams which will not benefit the majority of the lowly farmers.
The appeal of the town executives will be sent to provincial, congressional and national leadership.
Their appeal is for the government to instead consider the building of smaller dams for specific areas and rehabilitation and strengthening of the existing dams.
The second district mayors will also seek the government’s attention to providing agricultural development technology, input and marketing and development of other potential irrigable lands to increase production and self-sufficiency.
The opposition stand likewise cited that the terrain will only suit small scale irrigation dams in the different locations that will certainly provide answers to the needs of the farmers.