Thursday, November 06, 2014


by Ernesto T. Solidum

Mr. Efren Trinidad, Secretary to the Mayor of Kalibo has confirmed the notice of STL Panay Resources that its outfit is prepared to undertake excavation/extraction and hauling of gravel and sand from the Aklan river. This is based on Aklan SP resolution approved by then Governor Carlito S. Marquez in early 2013 to mitigate periodic risks and disasters during typhoons.

About 15 million cubic meters will be extracted from the Aklan river starting from its mouth at Bakhao Norte up to Linabuan Norte, Kalibo at no cost to the government. Payment will be a token of P5.00 per cubic meter. Excavated minerals will be shipped in bulk to Singapore.

With this advice from STL, a technical working group will be convened to prepare the memorandum of agreement, said Mr. Trinidad. It appears that they have secured the Environmental Clearance Certificate from the DENR dated July 25, 2014.

Aklan province has two (2) main river ecosystems that are perennially flooded during super typhoons namely: Kalibo and Ibajay. Worse off is Kalibo because of its dense population and relative bigger built-up area. Typhoon Frank in 2008 inundated all 16 barangays of Kalibo and the adjoining municipalities of Numancia, Lezo, Malinao, Banga, Madalag, and Libacao.

From aerial footages after Typhoon Frank, mud and debris seen on both sides of the river upstream specifically in Daguitan, Banga was 800 meters wide. However, water flow became constricted in its path going to Poblacion, Kalibo where floodwater was “squeezed” to 400 meters. The resulting impact was massive flooding and distruction never experienced in the last 40 years.

Engr. Jun Sanchez Jr., Head of Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that Surabya, second largest city in Indonesia has encountered similar flood problems before. What they did was to build concrete river dikes from the City to its source in a straight line at equal widths. This means that if the width upstream is 400 meters, the lower portion must be the same to prevent flooding and danger from soil erosion.

In Aklan, the same ingenious method can be done. Once successful with flood management, Aklan can easily attract domestic and foreign investments. Can we remember the disastrous P100 million dredging project on Aklan river administered by DPWH in 2012? That went nowhere.

Under the plan, the provincial government is expected to get a revenue of P75 million, but there is no guarantee it will solve recurring risks. STL Panay Resources is just too happy to exploit the Aklan river with motorized dredger and flat bottom boats with no Pinoy laborer on its payroll. Everything will be mechanical and systematic, 24/7.

Unnecessary bottleneck or constrictions in the normal flow of water is removed once the concrete river dike is approved. This means restoring the full length of the Kalibo bridge to its original structural design and capacity. At least Puroks 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Laserna St. must give way to the natural volume of flow of the Aklan river.

A technical working group composed of representatives from DPWH, PRRMC, MPDC, DENR and DILG must be convened at the soonest time possible to design the concrete river dike for funding consideration by the Regional Development Council. At least the concrete structure may have a total of 10 kilometers long which could be undertaken by segments. The priority must be the three (3) kilometers segment from the Aklan river delta up to Brgy. Tigayon before any dredging and extraction takes place.

The alternative proposal could be the advance payment of STL Panay Resources for the P75 million compensation for concreting the river dike. Is the P5.00 payment per cubic meter of sand and gravel fair and just? Is this Aklan-STL Panay Resources deal onerous agreement that allows foreigners to exploit our patrimony right under our very noses at a token cost?

Black gold means oil to Arab countries, coal to Semirara but gravel and sand to Aklanons. This is a resource for our younger generation to cherish and nurture, given away for free is the height of stupidity.

However, historically after the Israel-Egypt war, gasoline mining in the Middle East was nationalized for the advantages of the Arabs. It ended the exploitation of the Magnificent 7 oil companies. /MP

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