The Bicol river basin is always a good reason of locating a project.
During the administration of president Gloria Arroyo, Bicolano politicians exhorted the creation of the Bicol River Basin Project Management office. Malacanang issued presidential executive order number 359 on September 2004 giving life to BRBPMO.
It has a (life) timeline of six years to complete mandated tasks. The World Bank partially loaned the government some $22 million as start-up. Again, regional government agencies were supposed to work in unison for the program to be effective and operational.
The new program was tasked to “Coordinate, initiate and carry out formulation, implementation and monitoring of water and watershed policies, studies, management actions and investment in the river basin consistent with the ecological principle of using the river basin as a unit of management…..” Etc. Etc.
BRBPMO was also earmarked to rehabilitate fledgling or non-working or “forgotten” irrigation systems which include Calabanga and Tinambac towns’ (this link leads to a post about) Tigman-Hinagyanan-Inarihan river(s) irrigation system (THIRIS), said to be the largest national irrigation system (NIS) in the Bicol river basin area. So far, the program failed to even post a sign that THIRIS was up for rehabilitation or what.
Also under the umbrella of the BRBPMO, the congressman of Camarines Sur’s first district (who hails from Pampanga province) stirred a 1.2 billion-peso project for dam construction in the town of Lupi, complemented with the dream component of roads and skyway bridges that would traverse the Bicol river passing the towns of Libmanan and Canaman.
The project entered the phase of uncertainty with the entry of provincial and local politics and the divided opinion, sentiment and support of the residents. Completion of the construction of the controversial dam and its components were eventually put on hold.
Here and now, the Bicol river’s name was for the second time used in disgrace, shame and shambles. The unfinished dam (and the money spent) will remain the tangible evidence to this for people to see in the years to come.
As always, failures leave behind some ugly memorials.
Is it mean to say now that the Bicol river basin area is a repository of failed government projects due to various reasons, faults and attitude inherent on the government, the people tasked to run the project, the local government officials and the resident-beneficiaries?
The ascension into office of the new president officially abolished the burden that was the Bicol River Basin Project Management office. (It was the final nail that sealed the coffin, according to observers and critics.) There is the apparent strong shift of national development support away from Camarines Sur and more on Albay now.
Still the Aquino administration seems to show mixed (confusing) signals when it announced the allocation of P680 million for the Bicol river basin dredging project to resolve the serious and heavy flooding in the region during the rainy season, particularly the low lying areas of Camarines Sur province.
O, well, enough of this. We will just dream that someday, an (some) enterprising tour operator(s) will find ways at luring people to take a good look and enjoy the nakedness and natural beauty of Bicol river and its banks.
Maybe aboard a (floating) tourist barge or boat while sipping piñacolada or fresh buko juice, eating “an-it” (mud crab) cooked in thick coconut milk diced with the signature Bicolano red-hot pepper amidst the whispers of the unpretentious rushing waters and nipa fronds.
River cruise, kayaking or river rafting, anyone?
Don’t forget to read previous posts on this series, here:
The Mother and Queen of all rivers in Southern Luzon.
Crossing the Bicol River via Balongay.
Stepping into the real Balongay.
Balongay and the bridge of broken dream.