By LITO RULONA
A GROUP of Bukidnon villagers on Tuesday sent a formal complaint to Malacañang against Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. and the National Irrigation Administration for an agreement that allegedly allowed the use of irrigation water for the latter’s bulk water supply production.
Rio Verde served as the bulk water supplier of the Cagayan de Oro Water District for about a decade until this January when the Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp.-COWD-owned Cagayan de Oro Bulkwater Inc. (Cobi) took over. Cobi’s source of water however is Rio Verde.
The group from Baungon, represented by lawyer Ernie Palanan, sent a six-page complaint to the Office of the President through Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco.
Palanan’s group asked asked for immediate prosecution in connection with a memorandum of agreement allegedly made by Rio Verde and NIA.
Palanan said NIA, through its regional officials, had a 2013 agreement with Rio Verde that allowed the firm to siphon off water from NIA’s irrigation canals in Baungon town.
He said what was supposed to be irrigation water formed part of what it sold to the COWD.
Palanan said Rio Verde sold the water to COWD for P10.45 per cubic meter but paid NIA a measly 13 centavos per cubic meter.
He said it was grossly “disadvantageous,” “inequitable” and “grossly unfair.”
“Worst, there were no provisions that facilitate the proper determination as to the volume of water that will be siphoned from NIA. Let it be noted that the water from NIA is absolutely intended for the farmer-beneficiaries…,” reads another part of the complaint.
Palanan said the Rio Verde-NIA memorandum of agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2017 “but a new agreement was proposed” to the Office of the National Irrigation administrator.
Palanan argued that the memorandum of agreement was grossly illegal because it allegedly contravened the very law that created NIA.
“Nothing in the mentioned law indicates that water from NIA will be used for business purposes,” he said.
Palanan said Rio Verde “significantly diminished” the volume of irrigation water in the town “to the point that farm lots is (sic) not irrigated anymore.” He said it plunged from 300 hectares to 200 hectares of irrigated farms.
“Consequently, farmer-beneficiaries have to fight for irrigation water. The same could not be avoided because some farmers plug water canals so that water will flow in (sic) their respective ricefields. Eventually taking water for downstream farmer-beneficiaries. Some farmers simply stop irrigated type of farming to avoid bloody confrontation,” he said.
Palanan added: “With less water flowing in the irrigation canals in Baungon, Bukidnon, farmers will no longer convert to irrigation, thereby defeating the very vision of the President for a rice sustaining country.”