Debates on P5.5B Chico mega-dike project heat up

TABUK CITY, Kalinga  – Arguments for or against the P5.5 billion Chico river mega-dike project continues to heat up as concerned parties continue to ventilate their issues through the media.

Provincial Administrator Henry Gupaal said that the P1.2 billion project involves a huge amount of money that will be derived from the taxes paid by Filipinos, thus, the need for the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH_ Lower Kalinga Engineering District to present the required master plan for the project and not merely presenting a mere animation which does not actually reflect what will be the details of the project.

The administrator questioned how can the DPWH implement the initial amount of P100 million for the project when there was no alleged master plan and program of work, thus, local governments must first be consulted because there are issues and concerns that only the LGUs can help in the social preparation because local officials are on the ground.

Gupaal noted that in the past, there were many river controls that were destroyed by the onslaught of typhoons, particularly along Tulyao, Appas, Sucbot and Saltan in Taga and junctions.

“Money of government may be put into waste because there was no plan or program of work and that no prior consultation was made in the barangays and other LGUs concerned,” Gupaal stressed.

He said that the issues are being raised by concerned stakeholders to ensure that the funds for the programmed projects will be implemented pursuant to specifications and standards and the supposed master plan that will serve as a blueprint for the multi-billion project.

Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoaong pointed out that the issues being repeatedly raised against the project were addressed in previous meetings, saying that the P1.2 billion being referred to by the project critics were validated calamity projects by the DPWH which were subsequently provided funding, thus, there was no realignment of the funds for the mega-dike project but instead, the funds will be used for the identified calamity projects.

“We cannot understand why the critics of the project keep repeating the same issues that were already addressed by the DPWH. If their intention is to derail the implementation of the project, they will be answerable to the people who are always affected by flooding in the flood-prone areas of Tabuk and Pinukpuk,” Mangaoang stressed.

Based on records obtained from the DPWH-LKED, invitation letters were sent to the concerned local officials to attend the consultations that were done prior to the finalization of the plans for the project but for still unknown reasons, they failed to attend the said activities where they could have ventilated the issues for or against the project.

Mangaoang asserted that the mega-dike project was identified by DPWH technical personnel as a long-term solution to address perennial flooding in the 16 barangays of Tabuk city and 5 barangays of Pinukpuk instead of wasting public funds for stop gap solutions like dredging and channelling projects among others.

The DPWH-LKED requested the DPWH-CAR legal department to render a legal opinion whether or not it is proper to hold in abeyance the implementation of the projects funded by the agency. By HENT

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