NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
“There is no water war as far as peace loving and law-abiding Balilinhons are concerned,” Mayor Pureza Veloso-Chatto stated in a press conference, refuting points on a news article on the escalation of a water war that pointed to the Bugwak Spring controversy.
The Balilihan Mayor, fully backed by the Sangguniang Bayan led by Vice Mayor Trisha Chatto fiercely defended the right of the LGU to improve its water services and provide it at the most affordable cost to the people of Balilihan.
Chatto reiterated that there is no right at all of Richli that is prejudiced by Centralized Bulk Water Supply Project of LGU Balilihan.
She emphasized that Bugwak Spring has approximately over 4,500lps (liters per second) water volume with only 227lps granted to LGU Balilihan, enough to supply local residents with water up to 50 years, already projecting an increase in population and/or number of consumers.
On the other hand, Richli applied for about 4,230lps covering almost the entire volume available in Bugwak Spring.
Phase 1 of the waterworks project began in mid 2020, well within the one year prescribed period to develop a water source, after the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) granted the LGU a Conditional Water Permit (CWP).
It is worth noting that NWRB granted Richli a CWP for approximately almost 900lps which has not been used until now.
Vice Mayor Chatto also pointed out the timeline of events and pattern of moves by Richli to deliberately block the completion of the project, including filing of petitions for cancellation and petitions for opposition of LGU Balilihan’s Water Rights application in other sources; buying all possible lands around Bugwak Spring both in Balilihan and Sevilla sides, the same strategy used in other water sources aside from Bugwak Spring; filing of Administrative and Criminal cases against LGU Balilihan and the Municipal Mayor herself in the Provincial Prosecutors’ Office and the Ombudsman; directly ordering LGU Balilihan and DPWH to remove development structures along Loboc river which are DENR-declared public lands belonging to the state and not to any private person; and blocking of barangay road, claiming that it is part of their ownership.
“We can co-exist,” the Balilihan leadership said, stressing that there is more than enough volume of water to share for interested developers, public or private, who can acquire water rights from NWRB to ensure equitable, efficient and inclusive water supply to those in need.