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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, March 20, 2017
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No more water?


Last week I wrote about an impending water crisis in Bacolod. Well, nobody is taking it seriously, which is expected, because nobody can imagine the possibility that the water faucets of Bacolod's concessionaires would run dry.

Indeed, the city government will not allow this to happen otherwise it would be catastrophic. The Bacolod City Water District, the sole franchisee to supply potable water is also silent and indifferent. It does not believe that the documents indicating the possibility of water disappearing from the taps will happen.

There is good reason to believe that the worst case scenario will not happen.

First, the National Water Resources Board that dismissed the petition of Baciwa to cancel the claimants of the water source in Boro-boro Springs had not acted to enforce its decision. The NWRB rendered the decision in the case (NWRB Case No. 2012-024) on April 25, 2014 against Baciwa and recognized the claimants, Nemerlwin Water Delivery Services/Erle Saosao Vadlit Gonzales as the owner of the spring.

But the Water Board did not lift a finger to enforce its order. Had it done so, Baciwa would have already vacated the springs. There must be sufficient reasons for the Water Board to not implement its decision and the claimants to refrain from demanding enforcement. And so the status quo remained and Bacolod was not deprived of water from this source.

I was informed of a new development in this case that may result in the possible closure of the springs. When this will happen, I am not at liberty to disclose as yet. Let us just wait and see when that will take place, granting that the Water Board will truly enforce its order.

I cited earlier a comment from a friend that if the Boro-boro Spring is closed, he is afraid he will not have his favorite beer. This is because the brewery draws water from this spring and, if that is closed, there will be no water for the brewery. It cannot use water from its wells.

It had been rumored that the half a billion loan of Baciwa a decade ago served only the brewery. As I wrote several times, the Baciwa project that was financed by the loan had produced no water to the concessionaires because the water went only to the brewery. Baciwa has not denied this, and the brewery had also kept its peace.

The truth or falsity of rumors can be confirmed the moment the Water Board enforces its order declaring that Baciwa does not have a water right to the spring and the owners closed the valve.

In this event a lot of questions will be answered. The accountable people of Baciwa will have to answer to the Ombudsman and top personnel of the brewery will have to face the music for putting the brewery in an precarious situation. I will not discuss this matter until after the Water Board had acted. It just cannot be said that things will not happen.

The possibility that Mactan Rock or its surrogate, Bacolod Bulk Water Inc., can deliver water this October is already gone with the exposure that the water rights that Baciwa dangled before the people of Bacolod had already expired. Moreover there is no indication that Baciwa will be able to get another water right. Indeed if it had, it would have bragged about it.

There is information that the highly-publicized “consortium” between BBWI and Mactan Rock does not legally exist. If necessary, we will try to get the documents, but I guess this is already beating a dead horse because they cannot deliver anyway. It is just that Bacolod was given false hope. I can only commiserate with BBWI that is said to have Chinese sounding names that might not have been aware that Baciwa's water rights that they reportedly paid for, had already expired.

Mario Macatangay, the Baciwa general manager promised that if Mactan Rock could not deliver, then Baciwa will dig more wells.

This is the bigger problem. Of Baciwa's 48 functional deep wells, 19 have no water permit and 29 have no Environmental Compliance Certificate, no water permit and no drilling permit. Last week, I wrote that Baciwa had been served Notices of Violation and when DENR does what it said it will do – enforce the law – then these wells will have to be shut down. What happens then? Make a guess.*



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