By Ali G. Macabalang
TARAKA, Lanao del Sur
Amid anxieties in the global Coronavirus pandemic, on one hand, and jubilation for the 2nd founding anniversary celebration of the Bangsamoro autonomy region, on the other, local officials alongside higher authorities have begun constructing six units of Solar-Powered Irrigation System (IPIS) and a water supply system to magnify rice production and end as well residents’ risky drinking of untreated river water.
“This is a long dream come true,” Mayor Nashiba Sumagayan said in an emotional speech at the groundbreaking rite here on Thursday, January 21 for the construction of the facilities funded by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and brokered by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
The mayor’s husband, Vice Mayor Amenodin “Odin” Sumagayan, and Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. affirmed the essence of the infrastructure projects in their messages, and expressed gratitude to MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol and DBP president Emmanuel Herbosa not only for their presence to grace the ceremony but especially for providing the needed technical and funding supports.
The vice mayor, a lawyer, said he had completed three consecutive mayoral terms but failed to realize their “dream” to provide a sustainable source of “safe” water supply for residents and revive the state of this town as a rice granary in the Lanao region during 1960s and 1970s.
Sec. Piñol in response called Thursday’s ceremony as a “Day of Courage,” citing the town officialdom’s daring stride to abate inadequacies among its constituents by enrolling in the Mindanao Solar-powered Water Supply Program, one of the MinDA’s flagship projects assisted by the DBP with soft loans.
“What makes the (occasion) remarkable and historic is the fact that this is the first time a local government unit in Mindanao, specifically the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), dared to implement a project using its own resources,” Piñol said.
The construction of the six units of irrigation facility and a water supply system, all solar-powered, forms part of socio-economic and infrastructure projects bank-rolled by DBP with some P218-million loan.
The LGU represented by Mayor Sumagayan enrolled in the MinDA’s Mindanao Water Supply Program (MWSP) launched on Dec. 6, 2019 and signed an enabling agreement with Herbosa and Sec. Pinol on June 20, 2020.
The MWSP is coordinated also with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and different LGUs in Mindanao, according to MinDA communications and public affairs Director Adrian Tamayo.
The DBP was poised to release part of the loan late last year to jumpstart the projects, but Mayor Sumagayan and Gov. Adiong reportedly opted to hold the groundbreaking on Jan. 21 as an added field highlight of events culminating the four-day celebration the 2nd founding anniversary of BARMM, which covers this province.
“When completed in three to four months from now, the six units of irrigation system will cover a 1,000-hectare area for rice farming allowing the Maranao farmers to plant and harvest at least 5 times in two years, or an average of 2.5 times a year,” Piñol said.
He said the water supply system will yield filtered-potable water for the 25,000 residents of this town, adding that both projects will draw water from the Taraka River, which roves the town from mountains as it cascades to Lake Lanao.
Part of the P218-million loan proceeds was used to purchase road-building equipment to build a network of farm to market roads here, he said.
In earlier reports, Piñol said, MinDA will assist Taraka in establishing a model farm where farmers could learn new technology like goat raising, chicken and egg production and duck raising.
Taraka will also be aided by MinDA in establishing and organizing its Economic Enterprise Office which will operate the irrigation and waterworks systems, he added.
The pilot implementation of MWSP here “has become a symbol of courage for the Maranaw people of Taraka and the workers of MinDA and DBP who pursued the project when most other officials of government stayed in the safe confines of their offices in the midst of the COVID 19 threat,” Piñol said.
“Personally, it was a moment of fulfillment for me as a government worker as well because the philosophy of self-reliance in governance has finally been embraced by a poor but brave town in Lanao del Sur,” he added.
The MinDA chief capped his citation of the people and officials here with a slogan: “Mawaraw a Maranaw! The Brave Maranaws!” With PMT Lanao Sub-Bureau Staff