Presco, DPWH asked to fast track road improvements in order to restore irrigation lines

SABLAN, Benguet

Mayor Alfredo Dacumos,Jr of this town and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Benguet Provincial head Godofredo Velaque met on Tuesday (June 27) to discuss ways to help the plight of local farmers- irrigators specifically with regards to the P10- million completed Shelpi Creek Sablan
Peday-Patad Small Irrigation System which has been nonoperational for months. Mayor Dacumos
expressed appreciation on the visit by NIA-Benguet officials as they vowed to address the problem.

To date, some 100 farmers are affected from 43 original beneficiaries, whose current water supply are sourced domestically, a practice for years prior to the government irrigation system arrived.
These affected farmers who belong to Suyoc Tenekey Angdel and Minac Irrigators Association (STAMPIA) are producing high value crops, cut flowers and livestock. Years, several irrigation projects have been completed by NIA-Benguet including the recently turnover Creek Sablan Peday-Patad Small Irrigation System,aimed to increase farmers production, thus, lifting their economic condition.

Actually, before the June 27 meeting between NIABenguet and Mayor Dacumos, the government agency already addressed the issue and forwarded its response through a letter dated June 6,2023.
“The irrigation facilities at Sitio Tinekey supplied by the water source Tinekey Creek 1 are functional,” the letter states. Based on the obtained Management Report by NIABenguet, it conducted series of onsite inspections, investigations and the following were recommended a) rehabilitation of the damage intake tank and waste-way at the diversion point (Shelpi Creek).

Furthermore, the IA will be assisted to make resolution or a demand letter to concern contractor for the rehabilitation of damage structure; and c) assist the IA in monitoring the agreed re-installation of the cut and removed pipes and the replacement of the damaged pipes by the contractor. In the investigation conducted earlier by NIABenguet, it was found out that at Sitio Angdel and Minac (water source: Shelpi Creek)— excavated soil from the road opening was dumped near the upstream of the water source of the project, causing a landslide that damaged the irrigation
structures (intake and wasteway).

The report added “ the irrigation association (IA) conducted maintenance activities and remedied
the intake by riprapping utilizing stones available on site.” “Due to the road widening and concreting (started March 23,2022),some portions of the installed pipes were cut,removed,and piled at several locations within the area…as a result, there is no water supply flowing towards the service area,” the report stated. Furthermore, NIA-Benguet report stated “according to the IA,an agreement for the re-installation of the pipes that were removed was made with the contructor of the road widening and concreting.”

It was learned that contractor was Phesco Inc.,the company which is operating the controversial
batching plant in this town. Record of NIA-Benguet, Julius Lawana, vice president and representative of Suyoc Tenekey Angdel Minac Irrigators Association (STAMPIA) has bidded out for the dismantling and reinstallation of pipes at Calot Junction to Kamog Central with Phesco Inc.
“In case of accident damages on pipeplines and reinstallation of pinelines,hose and other
materials will be provided by Phesco Inc.”

In an interview, Guerson Domoguen, president of Irrigators Association sought the help of
Mayor Dacumos and concerned agencies to ask Phesco Inc. to expedite its road construction
works in order to restore damaged irrigation pipes in various sections. Domoguen, also a member of Benguet Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council ( PAFC), urged NIA to address the landslide problem which is blocking the flow of water supply from its
main source.

In fact , villagers sought the help of Mayor Dacumos regarding their problem on the said NIA
project, complaining the supply of water to service areas. In turn, Mayor Dacumos in his letter dated May 17 (2023) to Engr Benito Espique Jr., Regional Manager of NIA-Cordillera states “concerned citizens verbally informed this office that the alleged project that was turnover by your office to STAMPIA has no water supply especially to Sitio Suyoc Tenekey Angdel and Minac.”

“Further alleged that it was only during the turnover ceremony and final inspection of said
project that the water supply was available.” On June 26, when this writer followed it up with NIA-CAR, Espique after a careful review on the initial actions taken by NIA-Benguet, has directed Velaque to see the mayor (Sablan), aimed at explaining and updating him on the matter.
As of press time, other actions/recommendations by NIA-Benguet as a result of their meeting
with Sablan mayor still being awaited.

Primo Agatep/ ABN

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