Wasting Taxpayers' Money in Bohol

By Romy Teruel 
Sunday Post

 Another "Loboc Bridge" in the making? 

 The revived controversy on the San Jose St. drainage outfall in Tagbilaran City is uncovering another Loboc Bridge (read: stupidity) in government projects. Loboc bridge is the P60M white elephant fronting the catholic church in Loboc.

 The outfall that cost P45M (?) could become another white elephant in the making.  All because there was no proper study made prior to its construction, or so it now appears.  The outfall is a component of the circumferential road project implemented through the Hanjin Corporation of South Korea. 

 The drainage is important because Tagbilaran is experiencing flooding at the slightest of rain.  But whether its outfall should be constructed at the end of San Jose St. is something that should have been thoroughly studied given the implications that it would have on the environment.

 As soon as it was completed it was ordered closed because of the damage that it was seen to cause the environment.  The result was unbearable flooding at some portions of CPG North Avenue that brought untold suffering to both residents and motorists.

 What contributed to the controversy was the report that there were establishments that illegally tapped the drainage to dispose of their untreated wastewater that is flushed to the seawaters of Tagbilaran and cause yet unestimated damage to the environment.

 Finally when DENR said the outfall could be opened, Mayor Dan Lim lost no time in ordering the opening of the outfall  that generated an outflow of unsolicited gratitude from those previously affected by flooding.

 Now here comes another controversy. While DENR's laboratory test results said the toxicity of the Tagbilaran seawater along the vicinity of the outfall was tolerable, another report by the San Carlos University lab test said the coliform content of the water is alarming.  Hence a new order from the Rebional Director of DENR to close the outfall could be forthcoming.

 According to Nestor Canda, the provincial environment and natural resources officer for Bohol, what DENR  is testing is not for coliform as this is a function of the Department of Health under  P.D. 856, also known as the Sanitation Code of the Philippines.

 The lab test results that DENR reported are for chemicals and substances that are toxic per their mandate under R.A. 6969 - An Act to Control Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes, Providing Penalties for Violations thereof.  The results Canda said showed tolerable limits of identified toxic substances.

 Now whether waste water running through the drainage and washed to the sea through the outfall caused the high coliform is not established.  The outfall is only one of those that can cause an increase. The others that have been there for a long time are the squatters that live along the shores of Tagbilaran and even the settlers across nearby Dauis.

 What needs to be done now is to look at previous records of laboratory tests for coliforms in the Tagbilaran seawaters.  Surely there are records on this at the health office or somebody is sleeping again on the job.  If there is substantial  increase then either the authorities can immediately ban swimming altogether from the seawaters of Tagbilaran or close again the outfall and just stay deaf to the complaints of the citizen on flooding.

 For a longer term solution, The provincial and city leadership could look for money again to construct another outfall  somewhere where the environment is least affected.

 But we say again, had there been thorough studies made on the effect of the outfall at San Jose St. to the seawaters of Tagbilaran this problem could have been avoided and souring of relationships among government officials could have been prevented.  Why construct a drainage and outfall that could not be put to use?  Why waste taxpayers' money for projects that will only become white elephant?

 To us who only have our common sense because we are not experts, this is all stupidity.  May be it is time we remove the experts and put people with a lot of common sense in the planning offices of DPWH.