NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Not shelved, just re-studied.
Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado expressed confidence that the multi-faceted Bohol Northeast Catch Basin Project will still take off, although admittedly on a smaller scale, after the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) re-studies it.
This after some Bohol mayors voiced opposition to the mega project for fear of permanently submerging lands and displacing farmers but still without reaching the full targeted projected coverage area.
The project was already endorsed by the Provincial Development Council (PDC) but the mayors’ opposition letter made it to the Regional Development Council (RDC) first.
Off hand, Aumentado said the projected coverage area could go down to 11,000 hectares to even 5,000 from the original 19,000 as envisioned by his namesake father and immediate congressional predecessor, former governor Erico Boyles Aumentado.
The senior Aumentado got the idea of a five-in-one project from his travels. He had said aside from irrigation, the Bohol Northeast Basin as originally planned could have provided hydroelectric energy and potable water. It could have been a venue for water sports and developed as a tourist attraction.
If scaled down, the younger Aumentado said the power, projected to be bigger than the production of the existing mini hydroelectric plants in the province, might conversely go down.
Bohol has only the Sevilla hydro that can produce a maximum of 10 megawatts (mw), the Janopol mini hydro in Balilihan with a power rating of five mw but producing only half of that, and the Tontonan mini hydro in Loboc that produces only 2.5 mw, on top of the vintage diesel power plant in Dampas, Tagbilaran City.
All this fall short of the province’s requirement so that Bohol “imports” 100 mw from the Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant in Leyte, made available through submarine cable installed during the time of the senior Aumentado as congressman, and later governor.
No other locally-produced power has been added since.
Studies had started during the latter’s incumbency to tap the Cantakoy Falls in Danao. He had brought in prospective investors but the project has been mothballed after similarly facing opposition.
Meanwhile, on the Covid-19 front, the younger Aumentado said the province should prepare to receive and accommodate the requirements of vaccines that the national government can provide.
As such he plans of initiating the move to insert in the 2022 budget an allocation to purchase an ultra-low temperature freezer that can maintain storage temperatures of (-) 80 to (-) 60 degrees Centigrade for the Don Emilio del Valle Memorial Hospital (DEDMH) in Ubay – the only other Department of Health (DOH)-run hospital in the province.
“We are already operating on the 2021 budget, but the budgeting season for 2022 is around the corner,” he said.
The Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) in Tagbilaran City already has one, that is why the DEDMH should also have such facility to serve the needs especially of the people in its catchment area and nearby.
The freezer will not be for one-time use only, he said. Covid-19 has no cure yet, and DOH – and governments all over the world are addressing the disease with only the vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has institutionalized the diphtheria-polio-tetanus (DPT) and (Bacille Calmette-Guérin or BCG) for tuberculosis vaccines for newborns and months old babies. Chicken pox vaccines, with boosters, are also given to younger children while adults are urged to get yearly flu vaccines and pneumonia jabs every five years.
Covid-19 is still in its infancy, and the recommendation is for two shots so far. But if studies should show that people would need yearly or once every five years inoculation, the province should be prepared for such eventuality.
He admits that the specialized freezer – being not the ordinary one used in households can be “really expensive”, but the money for its purchase will definitely be not “just a waste of funds.” (June S. Blanco)