Articles


NATION-BUILDING, THE AGNO RIVER SYSTEM, AND CHARTER CHANGE (Last of Two Parts)


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000285 EndHTML:0000034724 StartFragment:0000010195 EndFragment:0000034688 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/norman/Desktop/FVR%20Bulletin%20Article_Graphic/2014-Manila%20Bulletin%20(by%20Month)/2014-08%20(Aug)%20Bulletin/140824-Special%20Bulletin-P2-13s

“Then God said:  Let the waters abound with living creatures, and let birds fly above the Earth across the firmament of the heavens….” – Genesis 1:20

“Waste nothing – because NAKARIGRIGAT TI AGTALTALON (It’s so hard to be a farmer)….”– Lolo Ayo (Hilario) Valdez, Batac, Ilocos Norte, 1938

“Be sure to consume every bit of food on your plates and drink every drop of water in your glasses; otherwise, leftovers will surely end up as garbage in the Pasig River, Laguna Lake, or Manila Bay….”– X-First Lady Ming at family dinner, 1993

 

 

If, during the past few Sundays, we have devoted this column to matters on nation-building – particularly on the principles of good governance, people’s basic needs, quality leadership, and citizen-participation (all of which must be subjected to strategic planning) – it is because of today’s burning issues emanating from Malacañang’s fiascoes that have occupied our people’s attention. 

All these are, unfortunately, related to trial balloons re P.Noy’s 2nd term via Charter change, Bangsamoro basic law delays, trust-rating declines for Administration officials, Malacañang versus Supreme Court controversies, pork-barrel corruption, joblessness, the non-inclusive economy, OFWs endangered in the Middle East and North Africa, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

The following are recurring samples of current nasty and even insulting publicly disseminated reports that are truly damaging to the P.Noy Administration:

(1)“Weakened Presidency….”– Artemio Panganiban,Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 August.

(2)“Presidential powers can be dangerous in the hands of an unscrupulous person, or one hungry for power….”– Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 August.

(3)“One more term for Aquino?   Most likely hundreds of jail terms….”– Rigoberto Tiglao, The Manila Times, 15 August.

(4)“Aquino’s ‘authoritarian streak’ exposed….”– Nestor Mata, Malaya, 19 August.

(5)“Noy undoing Cory legacy….”– Christine Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 August.

(6)“No President has ever attempted such selfish and crooked maneuvers….”– Yen Makabenta, The Manila Times, 16 August.

(7)“Unfolding pork barrel scams indicate a much wider conspiracy….”– Alejandro del Rosario, Manila Standard Today, 13 August.

(8)“Jobless Filipinos rise to 11.8M in June….”– SWS, The Daily Tribune, 19 August.

(9)“The President, not Congress, holds the power of the purse….”   – Leonor Briones, The Philippine Star, 16 August.

(10)  “The rides in both the MRT and Disneyland are much, much shorter than the queues….”– Ambassador Jose Zaide, Manila Bulletin, 18 August.

(11)“Power shortage cum water rationing in 2015….”– E.J. Lopez, The Manila Times, 15 August.

(12)“Government warns faucets could run dry in 2015….”– Clair-Ann Feliciano, Business World, 19 August.

Revisiting The Agno River System

As recounted last Sunday, we have likened the step-by-step building of the capabilities of the Filipino nation to the development of the Agno River System in terms of the delivery of needed irrigation, flood control mechanisms, potable water supply, fish farms, power generation, local transport means, and other services. 

To keep the structure of our Philippine Republic strong, functional, resilient, inclusive, competitive, protective and modern, we must plan strategically, implement faithfully, and never allow any backsliding to take place. 

Started in 1996 and semi-completed in 2002, the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam (SRMPD) rises to a majestic height of almost 200 meters above the riverbed.  It was designed to control flooding that annually inundates some 125,000 hectares of densely-populated communities, generate 345 megawatts of electric power, and irrigate 87,000 hectares of farmland in large portions of Pangasinan and Tarlac (which equates to 2.5 rice crops a year).  According to the defunct Agno River Basin Development Authority (ARBDA), the Agno River System has a total length of 270 kilometers from its Mt. Province source in the Cordilleras to its delta at Lingayen Gulf.

IN SEPTEMBER 2004, INEXPLICABLY AND FOOLISHLY, THE ARROYO ADMINISTRATION ABOLISHED THE ARBDA ESTABLISHED IN 1997 TO FORMULATE, IMPLEMENT, MONITOR, AND OVERSEE THE LONG-TERM DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENTIRE AGNO RIVER SYSTEM.

AFTER A DELAY (READ “LOSS”) OF 7 YEARS DURING THE ESTRADA AND ARROYO PERIODS, SOMEHOW (FORTUNATELY FOR THE AQUINO III ADMINISTRATION), THE MISSING COMPONENTS OF THE AGNO RIVER SYSTEM ARE NOW BEING ATTENDED TO. 

The construction of the “Re-Regulating Pond” in San Manuel–San Nicolas, Pangasinan to store water being discharged by SRMPD, as we narrated last Sunday, has revived prospects of our eventual attainment of rice self-sufficiency. 

Future Engine Of Growth

From the “Re-Regulating Pond,” Pangasinan agencies can now siphon water for the use of communities in 20 towns.  At its outlets at Lingayen Gulf (which is part of our West Philippine Sea) are thriving fishing communities starting from San Fabian to Dagupan City to Binmaley to Sual.

The Sunday Puncharticle we previously-cited continues (10 August): 

“The Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project’s (ARIIP’s) programmed expansion for the Ambayaoan-Dipalo Irrigation System (ADRIS) and Lower Agno River Irrigation System (LARIS) suffered setbacks after NEDA recommended its termination and instead renamed the project ‘Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project (ARISEP).’

“ARISEP is a at standstill today as no funds for its operations have been allotted. Funding for the project was not included in the Department of Agriculture’s budget for 2015.” 

For all its magnitude and the windfall it represents, the development of the Agno River System – if finally completed – could well be tomorrow’s engine of sustainable growth for much of Luzon.

ARISEP needs P2.65 billion to complete infrastructure works in the next two years.  Its work program includes digging of two 9-hectare catch-ponds below the present reservoir to increase pond size to 85 hectares.

Water Conservation During The Ramos Administration

Water issues used to be looked upon as “infrastructure concerns” – with the DPWH as lead agency.  During FVR’s Presidency, however, this primary role was transferred to the DENR by the appointment of its Secretary Victor Ramos (no relation) as the Government's "Water Czar."

"Czar" Vic Ramos' first mission (with help from DA and LGUs), was to convince Central Luzon farmers to share their allocations of water from the Angat River, which was then being connected to the Umiray River in Aurora Province by boring a 17-kilometer tunnel underneath the Sierra Madre mountains This "win-win" approach prevented irrigation and drinking water crises in Central Luzon and Metro Manila during the onslaught of El Niño in 1997-1998

Among the major conservation reservoirs, impounding dams, and multi-purpose water structures that were developed on a strategic time-frame during FVR’s term were the Angat-Umiray Transbasin Network in Bulacan-Aurora provinces (1993-1999); Agno River System with the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam in Pangasinan upstream to Benguet and downstream to four Pangasinan districts and one Tarlac district (1995-2002); Pantabangan-Casecnan Transbasin System involving the tunneling of 26 kilometers through the Sierra Madres to connect the Casecnan River at the Nueva Vizcaya-Quirino junction to the Pantabangan basin in Nueva Ecija (1997-2001); and the upgrading of the Pulangi River System from Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental to North Cotabato (1994-2001); Malitbog-Maridagao River System in North Cotabato-Maguindanao (1995-2000), and Kabulnan River System in Maguindanao (1995-2000). 

The above initiatives in the mid-1990s significantly improved our overall sources of fresh water, considering that only 10% of our deepwell water volume remains.

Lessons Learned From The Philippines

At the 3rd World Water Forum in Osaka, Japan in March 2003 (chaired by former Japan PM Ryutaro Hashimoto), FVR presented the long-term strategy to address Southeast Asia's water problems. Basically, the following lessons derived from Philippine experiences of 1993-1998 were adopted: 

•Treat water as an economic goodInstall "user's pay" and "polluter's pay" principles.

•Offer economic incentives for recycling used water.

•Maximize community participation.

•Tap indigenous communities for “best practices” in conservation, use and distribution of water.

•Improve farm productivity, particularly in the efficient use of irrigation water.

•Respect the carrying capacities of the ecosystems by maintaining sustainable population growth.

The Philippine practices outlined above are for ordinary people and small agencies to do.  In our view, all these can be implemented cooperatively at the community level, particularly the actions we must take for more effective integration of water uses.

Addendum:  P.Noy’s Cha-Cha

Because “Cha-cha (Charter change)” issues are so predominant these days, we have summarized President FVR’s categorical statements on the subject of a 2nd term for the incumbent President made on 3 related occasions:          (1) Arrival at General Santos City Airport, 20 September 1997 from European state visits;  (2) “Peace and Development” rally at Davao City Airport, 20 September 1997; and (3) “Prayers for A Better Life” ceremonies at Villamor Air Base, 21 September 1997. 

(Please note that these 3 events happened before the President Cory-Cardinal Sin anti-Cha-cha gathering at the Quirino Grandstand, 21 September 1997).  FVR’s declarations were:

THERE WILL BE ELECTIONS FOR ALL NATIONAL AND LOCAL POSITIONS IN MAY 1998, AS SCHEDULED.

FVR IS AGAINST THE EXTENSION OF THE TERM OF ANYONE, INCLUDING THE PRESIDENT, FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL EXERT EVERY EFFORT, ESPECIALLY THE COUNTING AND ACCOUNTING OF VOTES, TO ENSURE HONEST, ORDERLY AND PEACEFUL ELECTIONS (H-O-P-E), WHICH WILL BE CREDIBLE TO THE PEOPLE.

FVR WILL NOT PROCLAIM MARTIAL LAW NOR ORDER THE AFP-PNP TO UNDERTAKE ANY OPERATIONS THAT MAY BE MISCONSTRUED AS ACTIONS LEADING TO MARTIAL LAW.

BECAUSE TIME IS RUNNING OUT, THE DEBATES AND PROCESSES PERTAINING TO CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE MUST GIVE WAY, IMMEDIATELY, TO THE PASSAGE OF LAWS URGENTLY NEEDED TO POSITION OUR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE MORE COMPETITIVELY.

FVR HAS ASKED CONGRESS TO FAST-TRACK THE ENACTMENT OF THE MOST URGENT BILLS IN OUR AGREED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA, WHICH ARE PRIMARILY ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ANTI-POVERTY IN NATURE, INCLUDING PREPARATORY MEASURES AGAINST EL NIÑO

DON’T YOU THINK IT WAS A GOOD MOVE IN 1997 TO QUICKLY END THE SPECULATIONS ABOUT A 2ND TERM FOR THE PRESIDENT BY SUCH CATEGORICAL STATEMENTS AND ACTIONS???

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org.  Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

Back to Articles