By LITO RULONA
THE mayor of Baungon, Bukidnon has dismissed claims made by a lawyer that the use of an irrigation system in the town as a source of bulk water being treated and delivered to the Cagayan de Oro Water District has adversely affected the province’s rice production.
Town mayor Pedro R. Alvarez brushed off lawyer Ernie Palanan’s claim that the use of irrigation water in Baungon has been hurting rice farmers there even as he called Palanan’s pronouncements “misleading and inaccurate.”
Alvarez’s family owns Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. that, until this year, supplied treated water to the COWD. Another firm, the Manny Pangilinan-controlled Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc., took over and since Janruary, has been operating the Baungon plant built by Rio Verde. The treatment plant extracts water from a river in Baungon via an irrigation system which has been allowed by the National Irrigation Administration.
“Gibaligya kuno namo sa Cagayan de Oro ang tubig og louy kuno ang Baungon. Dili kana tinuod. Grabe na among explain sa iya,” said Alvarez.
He called Palanan a “negative crusader” with a “false accusation.”
He said Baungon has two sources of water –Lumogon Falls and the Bubunawan River which is being used by the bulk water supplier.
“Managlahi man kana sila nga sources of water,” Alvarez said.
He said what the Rio Verde plant has been treating is “surplus water” from the NIA’s irrigation system which can provide water to over 2,000 hectares. Currently, he said, it is only providing for 250 hectares.
Unlike Valencia City, Alvarez said, Baungon is not a major rice producer. He said the town’s top agricultural products are cassava and corn.
“We identified rice as a minor crop here,” he said.
Palanan has asked the Senate blue ribbon committee to start an inquiry into the use of Baungon’s irrigation system by the water treatment plant in the town even as he complained about the NIA-Rio Verde agreement.
Palanan said the agreement is not in line with President Duterte’s promise of boosting the country’s rice production.
“How can farmers convert to the irrigated type of farming if there is an inconsistent supply of irrigation water? To humbly point out, consistent flow of irrigation water is vital to the irrigated type of farming,” he said.