PINUKPUK, KALINGA – The P4.37 billion Chico River Irrigation Pump project that is expected to service 8,100 hectares of farm lands in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga by 2021 broke ground in Barangay Pinococ on Friday.
It is the first Chinese soft loan infrastructure project in the Philippines and the first flagship project of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
When it becomes operational, the irrigation project will benefit 7,000 hectares in the towns of Tuao and Piat in Cagayan and 1,100 hectares in two barangays in Pinukpuk, Kalinga.
In his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony, Governor Jocel Baac implored NIA’s leadership to add 2,000 hectares more of Kalinga’s farm lands in the irrigation project’s coverage area since Kalinga is the host and main water source.
“Kami nakikiusap lamang, nu mabalin kuma ket naynayunan yu kuma jay ma-irrigasyunan dituy Kalinga ta 1,150 laeng compared to 7,500 ti Cagayan. Ket nu mabalin, gapu ta agapu met jay danum jay ayan mi, aramiden yu met kuma a nga uray kagudwa – uray 3,000 laeng kuma,” Baac said.
(We are only requesting that NIA add more farm lands to be irrigated in Kalinga because it’s only 1,150 hectares compared to 7,500 in Cagayan. If possible, considering that the water will come from us, increase it to at least half of Cagayan’s service area – at least 3,000 hectares.)
“Definitely our people will be asking why only 1,000 hectares was considered by NIA in its project plans,” Baac said.
Later in the ceremony, NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya promised that Baac’s request will be prioritized in NIA’s budgetary plans.
“I promise you that this will be one of the serious priorities that NIA will be undertaking in the coming days before we will submit our budget proposal for 2019,” Visaya said.
Visaya said that the project will mark the first of many flagship projects to be implemented by NIA under President Duterte’s infrastructure program.
He praised the President for setting aside politics to support the project which has been stalled for ten years due to lack of funding.
“Makita po ninyo na lahat ng hindi nagawa ng past administrations, this administration is very determined to carry out,” he said.
The P4,372,897,254 Chico River Irrigation Pump project is expected to be constructed within three years, during which 14,800 temporary jobs will be generated. When it becomes fully operational, the project will create 8,700 permanent jobs.
To be built by Chinese contractor CAMC Ltd., the project involves the installation of six massive water pumps, 30-kilometer transmission line and sub-station; construction of a 4.4-kilometer major diversion canal and two 1.9-kilometer diversion tunnels; and the construction of a 33-kilometer main canal, 100-kilometer lateral and sub-lateral canals. Along this network of canals will be an 8-kilometer access road and an 84-kilometer service road. The project management office will be built in Barangay Naruangan in Tuao.
“A symbol of Philippine-China friendship” is how Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of China in the Philippines Jin Yuan described the project. In his speech, he vowed that the project will be completed on schedule at a very high quality.
“The Chinese side will spare no effort to complete this project with very high quality and make a symbol for China-Philippine friendship,” the Chinese dignitary said.
“Actually, this project was first planned in year 2010 so eight years has already passed. [But] finally this project came to China. No more eight years. Three years later, here, we will bring you the Chico River Irrigation Pump,” he added.
By Iryll Sicnao