DAGUPAN CITY— The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is now optimizing the use of all its existing water dams, numbering 357 in the entire country, for hydro-power and tourism purposes to further boost the economic development of the country.
This was bared by NIA Director General Ricardo Visaya, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), when he spoke Wednesday during an Irrigation Stakeholders’ Summit participated in by local government officials and heads of irrigators associations in various parts of Pangasinan.
Among those in attendance were Governor Amado Espino III and Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil of the second district of Pangasinan.
Visaya cited the Pantabangan Dam which has a component for hydro power, aside from providing year-round water for the farms in Pampanga and Bulacan.
The Pantabangan Dam is now an important tourist destination and a hotel was already erected nearby, he said.
In a keynote speech during the summit, Visaya called on interested investors to come to NIA and enter into a memorandum of agreement with his agency if they want to tap some dams for hydro power and for tourism.
He said he is very confident that some of these dams spread all over the country are capable of hosting hydro power plants and could become tourist destinations.
Visaya said he does not know yet how much power could be generated from each NIA dam but is certain that this could soon fill up some of the power shortfall.
He said investors could share with NIA just 6 percent of the revenues that they could generate in their project.
Visaya told newsmen that if a dam would be used for hydro power, the cost of construction and maintenance would be shouldered by the proponent company while dams and its water would remain to be with NIA.
At the same time, Visaya announced the start of construction just two months ago of the huge Balog-balog Irrigation Dam in San Jose, Tarlac which seeks to irrigate the whole of the province.
Costing PHP15 billion, the project will be a source of hydro power aside from generating water for the farms year-round.
Visaya said the Balog-balog Dam project had long been planned and finally started under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The problem of road right of way and interference of local politicians caused the delay of the project planned way back during the administration of then President Diosdado Macapagal, he said.
Construction of the project is now in full swing under the administration of President Duterte as all obstacles that prevented the implementation of the project were finally ironed out through strong political will, Visaya said.
In a briefing during the summit, the AFP assured adequate security inside and around the project site.
Visaya belittled the capability of the communist New People’s Army to launch an attack at the project site, saying the number of its members in the Tarlac-Zambales area had greatly diminished through the years.