Sagada folks ask “where’s the 36M Boasaw waters”

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SAGADA, Mountain Province – “Where’s the Boasaw waters” is a much questioned issue during Sagada’s synchronized political rallies especially here at the Poblacion area.

As it is since 2012 when the P36 million waterworks was implemented by then mayor Engr Eduardo Latawan, the money was used up by the contractor Cotabato based- FFJJ Construction and sub- contractors from northern Sagada, there is yet no water that reached the intended barangay- beneficiaries of Poblacion Sagada.

And as it is Boasaw water pipes then seen along the road from Bangaan to Kiltepan are now disconnected even as the pipes coming from Boasaw that supposedly should reach the distribution tank at Palidan, Bangaan now evades the tank and the pipes directly lead to Tanulong rice fields.

This, as an earlier complaint regarding the Boasaw waterworks project was refiled by complainant Grace Bandoy against Latawan before the Office of the Ombudsman for  abuse of authority, dishonesty, unethical conduct and graft and corruption on the basis of  Republic Act No. 6713  known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for public officials and employees and Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as to commitment to public interest, professionalism, justness and sincerity, and responsiveness to the public

The complaint earlier filed in 2014 is refiled at the Ombudsman office with updated allegations of a 323 percent slippage and liquidated total P2.4 million damages as Commission on Audit reports say. You will wonder how it ever ended up this way and still there is no P36 million gone P38 million water that reaches the people of Poblacion Sagada.

The P36 million Boasao waterworks was taken from two sources. One from the P18 million priority development assistance funds (PDAF) of then Senator Teofisto Guingona 111 from the initiative of then Mayor Eduardo Latawan and an P18 million counterpart sourced from the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP) from the initiative of then Vice Mayor Richard Yodong with the Sangguniang Bayan of Sagada then in 2010.

The Boasaw waterworks project called Improvement of Buasao Irrigation System and Construction of Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association Water Services with beneficiary Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association was meant to provide irrigation to Tanulong rice fields and domestic water supply for the 15 barangays of Sagada.

The feasibility study of the project identified the water sourced at Boasaw located within the tri boundaries of Agawa Besao, Tubo Abra and Aguid Sagada because there is a water crisis in Sagada. Until now.

And now, the pipes installed from Boasaw dam were directly led to the rice fields of Tanulong making the constructed distribution tank at Palidan, Bangaan beautifully useless.

In said rally here at the Poblacion, re-electionist Councilor Jerry Ticag who is also the president of the Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association answered back:  what happened to the agreement to have 5 inches of the 6-inch pipe connected from the main source at the Boasaw dam go to Tanulong and a 1 inch of the 6-inch pipe to the domestic waterworks of Sagada Poblacion?

Whatever

THE AGREEMENT.

Members of the Tanulong tribe represented by Vincent Bacdayan representing the Bacdayan family who owns the water rights of the Boasaw waters in Tanulong; Tanulong barangay captain Manuel Boto-og; then president of the Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association John Baguiwet; thenMadongo Barangay Captain Joseph Aclopen; and local leader Jerry Ticag of Tanulong,  agreed among themselves that the Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association shall manage a domestic water system planned to be built by the LGU of Sagada with waters sourced from Boasaw. Said Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2011 was witnessed by four elders of Madongo and Tanulong; 12 kagawad of barangays Tanulong and Madongo; secretaries, treasurers, and SK chairmen of both barangays, and Sagada Mayor Eduardo Latawan Jr.

Said MOU also identified a 5-inch opening to be connected from upstream waters of Boasaw with waters leading to the ricefields in barangay Tanulong and excess waters to domestic consumption; that waters shall be directed to a domestic water system when rice fields don’t need irrigation; and that all waters to be diverted to the 5 inch opening going to Tanulong’s irrigation should there be lack of water, with only one hour flow every three days of the week for domestic waters  leading to Poblacion Sagada.

The agreement further said a pipe 6 inches in diameter shall be connected upstream Boasaw dam with a 5 inch opening going to Tanulong ricefields and 1 inch for domestic waters. It shall be recalled that an earlier agreement between Besao and Tanulong identified a 6-inch diameter pipe maximum to be connected in the Boasaw dam for Tanulong water purposes.

Excess waters as noted in an earlier 2011 agreement among Tanulong folks referred to situations when rice fields are in fallow during rainy months so water is directed for domestic water supply. That is, when the rice plants are not in need of waters after harvest time and before the planting season.

In times when rice fields need water only one hour is allowed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the week to be released for domestic consumption.

The Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association has “exclusive authority to manage the domestic water system and install water meters” leading to households. Aclopen clarified that water fees shall be just enough to pay salaries for maintenance.

As it is however eight years after the water works was done, there is no water reaching the Poblacion to even talk about managing a domestic water system. This even as Puclis Bawaan a resident of water-needy Dagdag asked during the rally at Dagdag where the plan for the creation of barangay waters works associations has gone.

The memorandum “imposes” the installation of a water meter in every distribution tank and that water fees shall be collected through automatic deduction from the Internal Revenue Allotment of each barangay of Sagada availing of the water.

Water fees were identified to be on a “fair cost or just enough” to pay salaries of four maintenance men.

The acceptance or non-acceptance of projected water-user barangays on fees directly charged against their IRA as an imposition and to the sole management of the Tanulong Irrigators Association remains a question without the inclusion of  intended water-user barangays as to the domestic water system’s management. As it was, there was no consultation done with the intended beneficiaries of Sagada Poblacion when the waterworks proceeded.

Nevertheless, the supply of water is an illusion considering conditions stipulated in the said Tanulong peoples’ MOU when during summer time waters get depleted.

The waterworks project which obviously is made for Tanulong’ irrigation for its rice fields and how the past years say of the water’s movement say that the domestic waterworks for Sagada is then a dream still stuck in Boasaw.

Engr Richard Yodong, former vice mayor of Sagada and candidate for the same position says it would be good to review the MOU and renegotiate with the people from Tanulong.

A project that was desperately pursued to implement a P36 million-peso fund by the former administration of then Mayor Engr Edward Latawan.

Latawan is now a gubernatorial candidate for Mountain Province.

Candidate for councilor and former councilor Kapon Gomgom-o during the rally at barangay Dagdag said the Boasaw waters remain to be the biggest source for water at Poblacion and “we have to get it”.

WHERE IS THE WATER

Despite rainy days, water is still scarce in this tourist town as pipes bringing the precious liquid here from a watershed along the boundary of Abra and Sagada have not yet reached households of this town.

Those in south central Ambasing where a water tank is installed say Boasaw waters have not yet reached the village. And so with the eastern barangays where folks here only tasted the waters for two months in the summer of 2014 then disappeared till now.

Disappeared. Even as the Boasaw pipes were disconnected along the Kiltepan hills and along the road going to Antadao and the pipes now piled beside a house in front of the barangay hall of Antadao.

A barangay kagawad from Aguid said the pipes were disconnected for safe keeping as there is no water coming from Boasaw. Pipes along Madongo and Bangaan were also disconnected.

Exasperation was noted with publicized reports that the Boasaw waters reached town during the visit of Guingona January 7 in 2015 where he was named Gatan by the LGU with the conduct of ‘apoy’ thanksgiving ceremonial services that waters arrived.

Indeed, gurgling waters were seen spouting from the four-inch pipe near the ceremonial site at site Anga-ang with waters not seen spouting anymore a few days after the ceremony was over.

Contrary to reports however say Boasaw waters for domestic use have not yet reached the town’s desired beneficiaries except to the irrigation canal leading to the Tanulong rice fields.

Until now. And its May 2019 when the rains have come and for the past 8 years of the rainy season, there is yet no water from Boasaw.

What’s wrong.

BAD ENGINEERING

Bad engineering design is obviously the reason why the waters of Boasaw are not reaching Poblacion supposedly brought by the P36 million project Boasaw Irrigation System and Construction of Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association Water Services.

This was made known in two previous inspections Jan. 21 and June 23 of 2015 attended by the implementor Local Government Unit of this town and the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP).

And with the project not yet turned over to the Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association is a matter of public interest needing attention. CHARMP should be overly concerned what to report to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as the source of the money with a long overdue 323% slippage.

And with the rains continuously pouring and Boasaw waters not yet in town, something is definitely perceived to be wrong with the design of said waterworks that started mid year of 2012.

Additional 230 pipes, 4 inch in diameter were installed in 2015 along a 1.5 kilometer waterline towards the distribution tank at Palidan, Bangaan hoping to bring this whooping million-peso project to desired 15 beneficiary barangays in town. The 230 pipes shall continue a two lane 4-inch diameter pipes earlier installed on a two- kilometer pipeline.

For an “experimental” project as former Mayor Engr Eduardo Latawan himself claimed during the January 21 inspection, this P36 million waterworks with a 320-day project duration tells the assumption that the project went on a costly tryout of a water joy ride which in the end is left to the locals to figure out for themselves what the problem is why the waters are not reaching their faucets.

With waters that don’t reach town, sources here say there is need to add pressure so water shall move faster to maximum capacity from a 6-inch pipe connected from the main source flowing to a concreted open canal on to an 8-inch diameter pipe T-split in two 4-inch diameter tubes.

Thus the need for breaker tanks as CHARMP engineer Filemon Salvador said during the Jan. 21, 2015 inspection.

Two breaker tanks however were not installed Salvador said as LGU authorities informed him that a ‘water drum’ to test the desired breaker tank did not do any much better to bring pressure for water to flow to the distribution tank.

So the installation of 230 pipes perceived to add more pressure for water to reach the Palidan water tank. Then Tanulong barangay captain Ben Ayawan is hopeful installation of the two lane 4-inch diameter pipes shall bring more waters to the distribution tank.

Asked what if the 230 pipes shall still not bring the desired 13.5 seconds per liter to the Palidan tank, Salvador said the desired breaker tanks shall be installed.

The breaker tank solution and the two lines of four inch pipes has not been that successful with waters not yet here. The two lines of 4 inch pipes though reached some distance above the Palidan tank. And it is being forwarded that the two pipelines should be continued. As it is however, the two pipelines were joined and directly led to the rice fields of Tanulong evading the distribution tank at Palidan.

As it is, a P1.3 million fund from the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) was sourced by the Tanulong Irrigators Association to pursue the Boasaw waterworks to their fields. The project is currently being implemented.

DESIGN

The pipes laid out started from a 6- inch pipe that went to an open canal measuring some distance of 200 meters and an 8 – inch pipe connected from here with some distance of 300 meters. Waters from the 8-inch pipe was distributed in two 4 – inch pipes with a distance of some three kilometers till it reached a section where the 4-inch pipes were lacking and tied in a T to let the waters flow down a sloping area to the distribution tank at Palidan Bangaan.

In the distribution tank are two compartments. The first tank leads to the ricefields of Tanulong which when filled shall drop to the second tank for the domestic waters of Poblacion. But reports surface that excess waters don’t flow to the next compartment but through an opening just above the floor line of the tank.

A 400-meter tunnel of the waterworks project lets a 6- inch pipe pass through.

Sagada resident and trekker Philippe Aklay who most often hikes to Boasaw said the waters are moving around at the exit of the tunnel. Whether these waters are all successfully flowing down or not needs an inspection. Aklay suggests a pipe check.

Engr Richard Yodong now running for the same electoral position in the May 2019 elections suspects that there might be some sloping elevation construction issues at the tunnel why the waters are not coming down.

So it was known that the waters when it shall overflow shall go to the next compartment of the distribution tank at Palidan and the overflow to go to Sagada Poblacion.

At least 38 liters per second Boasaw water discharge was registered at the peak of summer time then as noted by Montanosa Research and Development Center  What more during the rainy season.

But times have proven that the waters don’t overflow.  Even during the rainy season.

Even if the desired water level of 13.6 liters per second was reached following installation of 225 pipes along the Boasaw pipelines to the Palidan Bangaan distribution tank which is around 7 km from the town center.

Consistent complaints of folks from Tanulong and nearby northern barangays of water getting wasted along the pipelines finally led to 225 pieces of the 4 inch pipes laid out early months of 2016 alongside a stretch of 4-inch pipes earlier installed. The rest is history with a 6-inch pipe connected from the Boasaw source in consonance to an agreement with Besao and Tanulong folks.

From whatever happened, waters supposedly should each the Palidan distribution tank.But not that successful enough.

Prior inspection recommended the need to continue the pipeline that was supposed to reach the distribution tank at Palidan supposed to bring waters to the Tanulong irrigation and to the domestic waters of Sagada Poblacion and Kiltepan.

But the problem now is that there is no more pipe line leading to the distribution tank. A 4- inch pipe that comes from a welded two 4- inch pipes directly goes to the rice fields of Tanulong evading the tank. While the welded 4-inch pipe could siphon what it can get directly led to the irrigation waters of Tanulong, a big volume of the waters is stuck at the tunnel area.

Now is a big question what is that distribution tank for. Anyway, waters at the tunnel are gurgling and a-plenty at Boasaw.

This is complicated by disconnected pipes used to be laid out from Bangaan to Madongo to Kiltepan to Antadao are now not evident.

This writer talked to a kagawad from Aguid and he/she said these are kept for keeping “ta adi kaakew”. “Adi kaakew” indeed because there is no water!  A pile of pipes also is piled in the yard of a house in front of the barangay hall at Antadao.

REDESIGN

When the Boasaw waterworks has been conceptualized, it was questioned because the project only reached site Capinitan so it needed more funds so that it shall reach the intended 15 barangay beneficiaries including that of Poblacion Sagada and Kiltepan barangays.

This led to an additional P2 million sourced by then mayor Latawan from the Bottoms Up Budgeting (BuB) funds in 2013 to finance the purchase of pipes to reach eastern and Poblacion barangay after the Sangguniang Bayan in 2012 chaired by then vice Mayor Richard Yodong asked for the redesign of the project considering technical issues including the ending of the pipeline only at sitio Kapinitan some two kilometers from the main town.

Latawan then said during SB meeting two 4- inch pipes shall be connected from the 6- inch pipe connected from the Boasaw water dam. This however was not pursued but instead a one 4-inch pipe was installed until waters were not reaching the desired level at the Palidan tank that the original design was recalled.

BOASAW WATERS

An agreement in 1972 reveal that the Agawa people will not claim for their use or for anybody’s use any water springing above and flowing into the dam of the Tanulong irrigation works. The Tanulong people also will not claim water below their dam.

Another source of hesitation springs from a 2002 agreement that “should there be anyone allowed to connect from the dam of Tanulong, the umili of Agawa, Tanulong and Madongo has the right to cut off the pipes” installed. The agreement further noted that, if somebody is allowed to tap at the upper stream, Agawa people shall also be allowed.

The 6-inch pipe limitation is based at an earlier 2002 agreement between and among tribes of Gueday, Agawa and Lacmaan of Besao and Madongo and Tanulong of Sagada. The agreement stated that only a 6-inch pipe in diameter is allowed to be connected to the Tanulong dam with reference to the irrigation project of CHARMP then in 2002.

The 2002 agreement further noted that only the 6-inch pipe shall remain along the Buasaw creek leading to the dam of Tanulong and Madongo and all other connections cut off.

Currently, Central Zone with poblacion barangays Patay, Dagdag and Demang have 28 water sources; south central barangay Ambasing has 6 water sources while nearby barangay Balugan has luxuriant water sources; eastern zone with barangays Tetep-an Norte and Sur, Kilong, Antadao have 27 water sources; the southern zone of barangays Suyo, Ankileng, Nacagang, having 21 water sources; and the water-rich northern zone barangays Bangaan, Madongo, Aguid, Tanulong and Fidelisan have 23 water sources.

Vice mayoral candidate Richard Yodong in his platform suggests a centralized water system sourcing waters from these many spring waters even as comebacking councilor candidate Eduardo Umaming Jr said a study then noted that the many springs of Sagada can supply its residents.

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