LOANS need payments, but grants are free. Gov. Erico Aumentado made this clarification Friday during his weekly program The Governor Reports simulcast live over dyRD, dyZD and dyTR and delayed broadcast over dyDL. The governor referred to the reaction of Engr. Petronilo Sarigumba, a former project manager of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), on the US$1 million grant from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to finance the feasibility study and detailed design on the improvement of the Malinao Dam in Pilar town. Aside from this error, Aumentado said Sarigumba, the supposed whistle-blower of an allegedly anomalous irrigation project in Talibon town, also erred in naming the project “rehabilitation.” Engr. Modesto Membreve, project manager of the Bohol Irrigation Project Stage 2 (BHIP 2) and Engr. Isidro Digal, project consultant, who were guests during the program confirmed Aumentado's observation, saying the Malinao Dam has not been in a state of disrepair and therefore does not require rehabilitation. Sarigumba said instead of engaging the Koreans in conducting a feasibility study on the Malinao Dam rehabilitation, which is a waste of government money for amortization, NIA should instead dig up a previous project study made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The governor however emphasized that there is no such JICA study. Aumentado who personally negotiated for the grant with KOICA Executive Director Lee Hae-Kyoon last October at the latter's office in South Korea said JICA conducted studies on the Bohol Integrated Water Management Program, the Bohol Circumferential Road Improvement Project Phases 1 and 2, the Leyte-Bohol Interconnection Project Stages 1 and 2 and the Capayas Dam facility but not the improvement of Malinao Dam.
The KOICA grant, he pointed out, will include the review of previous NIA feasibility studies of the Small Water Impounding (SWIM) projects of Bonot-bonot in Buenavista, Hibale in Danao and Loboc Valley. For his part, Digal said the study JICA financed previously was of the Wahig-Pamacsalan Irrigation Project. The study however found out that constructing a high dam across the Pamacsalan River in Abachanan, Sierra Bullones town was not feasible in that the foundation was not built for such height. Lowering the level will defeat the purpose as irrigation water will no longer reach the ricelands still in its service area but already quite far from the dam. Besides, the karst soil will only quickly dry up whatever water is impounded, hence the decision to construct the Malinao Dam of BHIP 1 instead – that will also bring run-off water to the Bayongan Dam of BHIP 2. Digal added that improvement of the Malinao Dam will enable NIA to irrigate virtually all of the lands in its service area even during the dry season. “And this is not rehabilitation work! Nilo [Sarigumba] should know because he is a former colleague!” he said. On the other hand, Membreve said critics have labeled Bayongan Dam as a white elephant. “I beg to disagree. The dam is already 90 percent full with the water level already at 49.5 meters as of yesterday (Thursday). At 52 meters, it will already overflow,” he said.