By SHERWIN DE VERA
VIGAN CITY — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Sur “approved and enacted unanimously” a resolution “adopting the strong opposition” of the Municipalities of Salcedo, Del Pilar and Sigay and objection” to the proposed Gregorio Del Pilar Impoundment Project (GDPIP) during its regular session on Tuesday, July 24. The declaration was authored by SP member Pablito Sanidad, Jr.
Approval of the document came right after SP Christopher Baterina presented the report of the Committee on Energy, Water and Utilities that he heads.
“While the project may be technically and financially feasible and have tremendous benefits, the Provincial Government [has] the obligation to support our people and uphold the sentiments of those who will be affected by this proposed project,” reads the report. But it also noted the august body “doesn’t close its doors for the possibility of supporting the project” in the event the concerned municipalities will support it.
On June 26, the Committee on Rules under Sanidad and the one headed by Baterina facilitated a public hearing on the project in Salcedo.
Representatives from the National Irrigation Authorities (NIA), residents and officials from Sigay, Salcedo and Del Pilar, and church representatives attended the gathering.
Sought for comments, Representative Eric Singson of the Second District of Ilocos Sur, who openly supported the project, said he advised the NIA staff “to redesign the plan and make it acceptable to the people” but he has not received any feedback from the agency to date.
Meanwhile, Engr. Eddie Alonzo, project officer for the GDPIP declined to comment but said they will wait for the copy of the resolution “to forward it to the higher ups for discussion.”
Leaders from Salcedo expressed their gratitude for the provincial board’s support and understanding of their sentiments and reiterated their disgust over how NIA took account of their sentiments.
“Now that the provincial board has spoken, will NIA insist [on the project]?” asked Mayor Leopoldo Gironella while underscoring that “NIA knew we strongly oppose this dram but they keep ignoring us up to this date.”
Punong barangay Raul Roldan of Bulala-Leguey, the barangay that will be submerged if the dam is constructed, said they are relieved the provincial board heeded their plea on the “dangers and hazards” presented by the project.
The United Methodist Church South Ilocos District said they are glad to know the SP heeded the people’s concerns and demands expressed during the public hearing.
“However, the fight against the project is far from over so we must remain vigilant against any effort the proponents might take to continue the project,” reminds Rev. Joel Bengbeng, UMC’s district superintendent.
The P3.4 billion worth, 89 meters high proposed dam is located on Buaya River along Salcedo. It is designed to irrigate 5,000 hectares in the municipalities of Salcedo, Galimuyod, Sta. Lucia, and Sta. Cruz and the City of Candon. The project is one of the eight priority projects of NIA in the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program funded under the Philippine-Chinese economic cooperation agreement. # nordis.net