Gov. Daniel Fernando during the inspection of the damaged rubber Gate No. 5 of Bustos Dam in May 2020. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

CITY OF MALOLOS– Governor Daniel R. Fernando calls on the contractors of the P1-Billion worth 2016 Bustos Dam rehabilitation project to finally push through with the needed repairs after the situation is now almost back to normal from more than two years COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fernando in a privilege speech during a regular session of the provincial board here last week said the Nueva Ecija-based construction firm and its foreign partner company which rehabilitated the Angat Afterbay Regulation Dam or Bustos Dam has no more reason to dilly dally the urgent works they supposed to have already done in 2020. 

After the inspection of the damaged rubber gates in May 2020, the contractor said the lockdowns and the then higher COVID-19 restriction will prevent them to facilitate the importation for the replacement of the rubber gates. 

Fernando today gave the firms ten days to finally act on his demand letters and do the necessary actions or face civil and criminal case.

The provincial government has demanded for a complete replacement of the six rubber gates of the dam after the rubber gate of Bay Number 5 was found to have leaks and damages in May 2020 which were believed caused by company defects. 

Fernando had expressed frustration the damages came only a year after the dam rehabilitation.

The governor said that the contractors have been ignoring the countless follow ups and demand letters sent to them by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in close coordination with the provincial government.

Fernando said the replacement of the rubber gates is already an overdue works as rainy season and typhoons seasons are now up today which will help prevent another flash flood that can cause another fatal incident to rescuers and even residents.  

“We must act now. We demand the immediate removal and replacement of all six gates under the contract for Bustos Dam. Kapag hindi, I will not hesitate to file civil and criminal cases sa lahat ng kasangkot sa usaping ito,” the governor said during his privilege speech in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session held at the Benigno Aquino Sr. Session Hall.

He also challenged the members of the SP headed by their Presiding Officer and Vice Gov. Alexis Castro to conduct an investigation regarding the matter.

Each of the six rubber gates discharges 500 cubic meter per second (cms) and if all the six gates are destroyed or damaged, it will burst a raging water volume of 3,000 cms of water while at only 700 cms, fernando said the catch basin towns of Hagonoy and Calumpit are already submerged in flood water. 

Fernando also called out NIA to take responsibility on the delay of the repair of the damaged rubber gate which could also impact 15,706 hectares of rice and vegetable area with 12,904 farmers and with an estimated loss of P880,964,445 to P2,690,255,147 worth of agricultural damages; and could negatively affect 80 barangays from Bulacan and Pampanga with an expected loss of lives from a flash flood it could cause. 

NIA Administrator that time Ricardo Visaya said the six rubber gates of the dam are all under 20 years warranty by contractor firm ITP Construction Inc. in partnership with Chinese company Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau Co. Ltd. Consortium. 

In addition, while the governor is in favor of the benefits that will be brought to the farmers of Bulacan through the construction of Bayabas Dam, he asked the NIA to communicate to him the specifics of the project.

“Batid po natin na pinag-aralan ang proyekto na ito at dagdag na irigasyon ito sa ating mga magsasaka sa lalawigan. Gayunman, bilang Punong Lalawigan ng Bulacan na siyang mag-iiwi sa proyekto, marapat lamang po na mabigyan tayo ng karampatang detalye patungkol dito,” he said.