By Charissa Luci-Atienza
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez has sought the completion of the Sumag River Diversion Tunnel Project in Quezon province to help resolve the water crisis in Metro Manila.
He made the call during the House Committee on Public Accounts’ recent briefing on the performance of concerned agencies on water management, particularly in ensuring an uninterrupted and adequate supply and distribution of potable water.
Suarez, who earlier opposed the diversion tunnel’s construction, said it is about time to complete the project, which shall supplement the water coming from Umiray River going to the Angat Reservoir, and will increase the supply to the Maynilad Water Services and the Manila Water Company.
“Gawin na natin itong Sumag. Ayusin na natin yung mga defects, and then let’s go to the long-range program…We are lifting the objection, so you may proceed with it,” he told the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials during the briefing.
Suarez noted that in 2016, the construction of the Sumag River Diversion Tunnel in Quezon was stopped after an accident took the lives of six individuals who were working on the project.
The Quezon lawmaker said he informed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that he batted for the lifting of the suspension of the diversion tunnel project.
During the hearing, Engr. Jose Dorado Jr. of the MWSS said the project, which is at 70-percent completion, could be finished before the year ends if the construction of the project is immediately jumpstarted.
Suarez said the Kanan River Bulk Water Proposal of Energy World Corporation should also be seriously considered to provide long-term solutions to the insufficiency of water resources in the country.
He said the Kanan River Bulk Water supply located above the Kaliwa Dam is seen as a possible replacement for Laiban Dam as a water source for Metro Manila.
He noted that Energy World has presented the project which shall encompass utilization of hydro power and wind power, while providing sufficient bulk water to Metro Manila and nearby municipalities, and irrigation.
“This project is from the public-private partnership with the Quezon Province and will entail no cost to the government,” he said.
Suarez said he preferred local private partnerships than the China-funded Kaliwa dam.
“We have a private sector which is saying we can do the same with even better services and features. Hindi gagastos ang gobyerno. Kikita pa ang gobyerno. So why are we going to compete with the private sector just because we have an offer from the Chinese who say we are willing to lend you money?” he said.
Suarez asked the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to set a meeting with Energy World, together with Maynilad and Manila Water, to further discuss the Kanan River Bulk Water Proposal.