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Congress Rival Hits Andaya on Dato's Dam Project

Election issues in Camsur First District towns identified by NP candidates

RAGAY, CAMARINES SUR - Nacionalista Party (NP) First District congressional candidate Nestor Villa Delos Reyes, the lone opponent of erstwhile DBM Sec. Rolando "Nonoy" Andaya Jr. of the Lakas Party, revealed that he is completely opposed to the construction of the Malaguico Dam in Sipocot town of this province and criticized Andaya for the latter's support of the project.

Originally, a flagship project of 2nd district Lakas Congressman Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo to provide irrigation for some 3,000 hectares of ricelands in neighboring Libmanan and Cabusao towns, the project has been suspended for half a year now after the Regional Development Council (RDC) had asked for the temporary halt to its implementation in order to study the risk and vital relocation of hundreds of affected residents particularly in the town of Lupi.

Delos Reyes said the dam has now become a major issue against Andaya and Arroyo, who were responsible for the release of some P 1.6 Billion fund for the project, as was shown by the huge protest rally last April 16 which was staged by an alliance of civil-society groups and local government units opposed to the dam project.

Sources from the Bicol River Basin Water Management Project (BRBWMP) and the NIA, both implementing agency of the dam project, said that the construction of the dam will commence after the May 10 election; simultaneous with this will be the formalization of lot donations and housing projects in Barangay Colacling, Lupi, where the affected residents are said to be relocated.

Meanwhile Delos Reyes' party mate, NP Ragay mayoralty candidate Domingo "Sonny" Cedo, disclosed that prevailing problems on the local economy and criminality are concerns which the town and the newly-created congressional district must resolve.

According to Cedo, Ragay is among localities of the new First District with immediate concerns which past administrators have failed to address.

Cedo explained that Ragay is among towns in this district affected by criminal elements, particularly by a robbery holdup gang whose members are suspected to be CAFGUs allegedly encamped in the 31st Infantry battalion of the PA in this locality.

Reportedly, the crime group had victimized bus firms, passengers in bus terminals, and eateries along the Maharlika Highway, its criminal activities remaining unchecked in the past years.

Cedo added that the local Peace and Order Council had not convened for the last 18 years despite these occurrences.

Cedo also criticized past officials who were mostly concerned with implementing infra-projects from congressional funds, but neglected the livelihood of their constituents.

He cited the case in which 45% of fishpond areas which extend to hundreds of hectares in this town had been abandoned by aqua-culture investors due to the "White Spot Syndrome" that started in 1990, and had stunted the growth of black crabs or "Alimango" and Tiger prawns or "Sugpo" in local fishponds; but had remained unaddressed by previous public officials.