A Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force composed of Bantay Palawan, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board, PNP Aborlan, along with the Palawan News team, conducted an operation on Thursaday, September 29 to validate the complaints of some residents of Barangay Sagpangan in Aborlan, Palawan against a small-reservoir irrigation project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the area.
In a message sent to Palawan News, along with documentary photos, the complaints claimed the project is like a “mountain quarry” with no permit, and causes noise pollution. “May malawakang pagbubungkal ng bundok doon at diumano ay proyekto ng NIA. Panay ang overtime ng operation, hindi sila makatulog sa ingay ng sasakyan at backhoe,” the complaint said.
In the resulting inspection, NIA’s resident Engr. Liberato Paulino explained that the reservoir project is a zoned earthfill with a 2.388 million cubic meter capacity and area coverage of 860 hectares, and is actually intended for the approximately 425 farmers of Barangay Sagpangan, Maligaya, Ibato and Iraan of the said town. “Ganyan po talaga, ang pagkaka extract, o tapyas, ‘yan po talaga ang design ng dam at ibang component ng project,” he explained.
Based on the inspection, it was validated that the project actually has an Environmental Compliance Certificate issued on March 12, 2012 and PCSD SEP Clearance issued on June 11, 2015. However, Paulino failed to explain why they acquired the ECC before the SEP Clearance when protocols dictate that the SEP Clearance is a pre-requisite to the ECC. Paulino also admitted that they have some lapses in complying with some of the necessary requirements like cutting permit.
Aside from the noise and widespread ‘quarrying-like’ activities, the complaint sent to Palawan News also said that the residents worry if aggregates are being transported outside of the area. “Nangangamba din kami dahil panay ang hakot ng lupa mula sa kabundukan,” it said.
On such particular matter, Paulino defended the agency, saying, “Wala po, definitely hindi po kami naglalabas intended lang po para dito (project). Kung may makita po kayo, hindi amin ‘yun. Wala,” he emphasized.
The Php780M-project, which started on April 2, 2014, is due on June 1, 2017 under Manila-based contractor, Oscar R. Sarmiento Construction Inc.