A P500-million irrigation project set for construction in Ilocos Sur has ignited controversy as Rep.Ronald Singson (first district, Ilocos Sur) urged Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala to restore the power generation component of the project that was reportedly scrapped when it was bid out.
Singson, who raised the issue in Congress recently, also disclosed that the winning bidder “sold” the project to an Ilocos Sur construction company after bagging the irrigation project.
He said that he learned about it from the local contractor who went to see him in his office.
“In behalf of my constituents who have been waiting for this project, I earnestly request the good Secretary to cause the re-inclusion of the power generation component of the Barbar irrigation dam project,” Singson told Alcala who was in the plenary hall of the House of Representatives to defend the agency’s 2014 budget proposal when the Ilocano lawmaker spoke.
Singson who funded the feasibility study for the project in 2009 with more than P2-million from his PDAF allocation, said that the original design of the Barbar project included a power-generating component. He said that he had specifically asked the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) which undertook the feasibility study to tap the Barbar river both for irrigation and power generation.
He waved a voluminous copy of the completed feasibility study as he spoke.
“How could the NIA disregard a program that they themselves designed,” he asked. NIA is an agency under the Agriculture department.
Singson said that he found the Barbar river which he described as “water-abundant” all year round after a long search which had brought him on foot to remote villages in his district. According to him, the river never runs out of water even during summer.
He said that with power derived from the project, economic development in San Juan town and nearby communities would be boosted adding that he had envisioned the dam project as a template for irrigation dams.
Singson announced that Alcala had initially given his commitment to cause the restoration of the original design of the dam project on the floor of Congress after the Ilocos Sur congressman spoke.