Draining Lake Danao

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I HEAR this on radio, supposedly sent by a texter: In the previous administration, Talisay City only had Joavan Fernandez, son of former mayor Socrates Fernandez. But under Mayor Johnny V. de los Reyes (JVR), Talisay now has many Joavans—-relatives that he hired by the dozen.

Okay, it’s not only relatives who compose the almost one thousand (I am only echoing some estimates) job order workers that were hired under the Office of the Mayor. Also, the Commission on Audit (COA) has observed that some of the “hirings” caused overlapping of work.

No, the COA is not referring to the position of president of the Talisay City College wherein de los Reyes hired Paulus Cañete to duplicate the function of college president Ritchel Bacaltos. Rather, it is referring to job order workers whose functions duplicate those of other City Hall employees.

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But I can see where JVR is coming from. He wants full control of City Hall affairs, so he creates offices he can control to bypass offices he could not. An example is his Flying Squad Task Force Patrol that goes over the head of the City of Talisay Traffic Operations and Development Authority (CT-TODA) of Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante.

As a result, the Office of the Mayor has become seemingly an island, or okay, a kingdom in itself. JVR is running City Hall by bypassing people he could not see eye-to-eye, like the vice mayor, who incidentally is a party mate; the majority of the councilors, who are with the opposition; and, yes, Ritchel Bacaltos.

So JVR is now in a “you and me against the world situation,” the “you” being his relatives, friends and kababayans and the “world” being the rest of the city. That’s not a good development in only his first year in office.

***

It’s good that the Cebu Provincial Government has, this early, laid down plans to counter the effects of the extended dry spell or El Niño that Pagasa said may hit the country in the middle of this year. The goal is to help farmers cope when rain water becomes scarce.

But what caught my attention was the report about tapping Lake Danao to irrigate some farms in the Camotes group of islands.

The lake is found in the town of San Francisco, which straddles the island called Pacijan. Pacijan is connected by a land bridge to another island, Poro, where the towns of Poro and Tudela are located. The other town in Camotes is Pilar, which is in the island of Ponson. It can only be reached from Pacijan and Poro using pumpboats.

“(The lake) is a tourist attraction. If we have to use that for irrigation, we have to install a system in consultation with the National Irrigation Administration because they have the expertise,” Gov. Hilario Davide III told reporters.

I understand that Davide has been briefed on what type of lake this Lake Danao is. The little that I know about the lake is that it can be classified as terminal or endorheic because its water is contained and does not flow into the nearby sea. The water it takes in is in such a small amount it can be drained out through evaporation and seepage.

It is because of this characteristic that the use of the lake is limited. While it is a tourist attraction, bathing is not encouraged because its being contained makes the water sensitive to pollutants. In fact, the lake needs to be constantly cleaned of plastic and other waste that some visitors throw into the water.

How draining the water for irrigation purposes would affect the lake’s water level surely needs a deeper study, especially because it is an important natural resource for San Fran and Camotes.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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