Convicted for graft in PHP780-million as chair of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA)

Pichay to exhaust all legal remedies on graft conviction

MANILA – Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay on Thursday said he would exhaust all legal remedies to challenge Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict in connection with the questionable PHP780-million deal when he was still the chair of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).Pichay made the… Read More


LWUA sides with DCWD over Tamugan


Our priority is water for the Dabawenyos.

Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) administrator Prospero Pichay made this clear as President Arroyo ordered LWUA to settle the conflict between Davao City Water District (DCWD) and the Aboitiz-owned Hedcor Inc. over use of Tamugan River.

This developed as Davao City councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling said most city councilors back the DCWD project against Hedcor’s.

Cabling said the landmark Davao City Watershed Code, which he authored, prohibits construction of a hydropower dam in Tamugan River, which has been declared by the code as a conservation area.

He said the code has been embedded in the city zonification plan, and Hedcor needs the approval of the council to amend the zoning plan to allow its project.

DCWD is planning a surface water project tapping Tamugan for potable water for 1.3 million Dabawenyos. Hedcor is building its own hydropower plant using the same river seen as the only source of water for future. Hedcor said the power plant with backstop Mindanao’s acute power supply, but DCWD said the Tamugan project would ease pressure on the Dumoy aquifer, the underground water reservoir where it currently pumps out water for the city.

DCWD spokeswoman Imelda Magsuci said Tamugan River is the only river ideal for the surface water project. Civic groups protesting the hydropower plant said Hedcor could go elsewhere for water source, but Dabawenyos has only Tamugan to rely on for future water needs.

  Pichay told Davao City radio station dxDC-RMN Davao that he had been instructed by President Arroyo to intervene and resolve the conflict.

LWUA had earlier passed a resolution urging the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to overturn its earlier decision revoking DCWD’s rights to use the Tamugan River in Baguio District.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate to Hedcor on March 17, 2009.





Picop blamed for rape of

Surigao del Sur forests


Picop Resources Inc. (PRI) has only 1,200 workers under its employ, despite the exclusive privilege of exploiting about 200,000 hectares of Surigao del Sur forest, indicating the province has not benefited in terms of employment from the pulp-and-paper company.

Protection of the vast concession by PRI has also been a dismal failure for lack of forest guards, leading not only to environmental rape of the forest but also an outright denial for more than 100,000 residents to benefit from the natural wealth.

No concessions

Church leaders in Surigao del Sur are pushing for exclusion of grant of concession area to PRI, as part of rehabilitation program now being heard by the court as PRI reels from a P7 billion debt.

Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) filed a case at a Makati RTC Court in May this year to place PRI under a rehab program to recover its P2 billion loan exposure in the company based in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur. Much of the woes of the company—operating at a loss for 30 years—on chairman Teodoro Bernardino, according to the church leaders. He has been replaced by former congressman Prospero Pichay, who is positioning himself to be named as receiver which is being opposed by church leaders.

Decided case

In a comment submitted to the court and published in newspapers, Church leaders opposed Pichay as receiver in a six-point comment that included an appeal against renewal of timber concessions of PRI.

“The rehabilitation of PRI should not extend to the consequential grant of any concession area to PRI in whatever form of tenurial instruments from its expired Timber License Agreement (TLA) No. 43, Pulp and Timber License Agreement (PTLA) No. 47 and Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) No. 35,” said the church leaders from the Diocese of Tandag. They said the exclusion has already been affirmed by a decision of the Supreme Court in G. R. Case No. 162243 (filed by then Environment Secretary Heherzon Alvarez against PRI) denying conversion of area covered by PRI’s expired TLA 43 into IFMA.

More viable

The company could even be less expensive and viable if it does not have the vast concession that it failed to protect. “PRI will be assured of sustainable of wood and other forest products to feed its mills and plants even without timberland concessions. There are similar sawmills, veneer, plywood and paper factories in cities gainfully operating without timber concession areas,” said the group.

The group said the former PRI concession under Community-Based Management Agreements (CBFMAs) run by recognized people’s organizations in partnership with the local government units and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Community involvement

“The development, protection and utilization of forest products for the sustained wood supply to PRI, will be less expensive to the company as the people themselves side-by-side with the LGUs and the DENR can be harnessed in developing and protecting the timberland, while a big segment of the population will have the opportunity of earning livelihood without necessarily being employed by the company,” said the church leaders who have intervened in the rehabilitation program to that the people of Surigao del Sur could benefit from the PRI concession.