KALIBO, Aklan–The Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) is urging three national government agencies to fast-track the rerouting of the lateral irrigation canals affected by the ongoing expansion of Kalibo International Airport.
The SP noted that the rerouting of the said canals has not been implemented even though the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had already committed an initial P40-million for the cost of construction.
Aside from DOTr, the board members also called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to address the delays in the proposed project covered by the Aklan River Irrigation System (RIS).
The Aklan RIS is the primary source of irrigation water of farmlands in the Kalibo barangays of Pook, Nalook, Briones, and Tigayon.
SP member Emmanuel Soviet Russia Dela Cruz, committee chairperson on agriculture, said the affected 5-kilometer lateral canal provides year-round irrigation to 98 hectares of agricultural lands within the vicinity of Kalibo airport.
These farmlands will be adversely affected by the airport site development works and the ongoing construction of the Kalibo airport circumferential road.
Citing NIA data, the rerouting and impending closure of irrigation canals and acquisition of road right-of-way would require a project cost of P98-million.
“We are worried that in due time and as the Kalibo airport development continues the existing irrigation canals traversing and along the airport will be covered. Before that happens, we are hoping the rerouting of lateral irrigation canals would be done immediately,” Dela Cruz stressed during the regular session on December 21.
Thus, he urged the DOTr, NIA, and DA to work together to undertake the needed construction of the canal structures and facilities at the soonest time possible for the unhampered delivery of irrigation water to the farmer-communities.
In 2014, the Aklan SP through the committee on agriculture had requested then-DA secretary Proceso Alcala for financial assistance for the rerouting of NIA’s lateral canals that serve the rice lands in the barangays of Kalibo and New Washington.
DoTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was also asked in 2015 to allocate P100-million for the rerouting of irrigation canals.
A draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the national government agencies for the terms and conditions in the rerouting of the irrigation canals of the Aklan RIS has been awaiting finalization since September 2019, causing the delay of the impending construction of the government project./(Boy Ryan Zabal/INews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)