Press Release
January 7, 2016


After almost five years of settling differences and working past construction hurdles, residents of intended barangay beneficiaries in Sagada, Mountain Province now have ample water supply flowing freely into their household tanks.

The P36-million waterworks project, better known as the "Improvement of Buasao Irrigation System and Construction of Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association Water Service Project," is a cooperative endeavor among the Office of Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management Project (CHARMP2), the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Sagada, and the Tanulong Tribe Irrigators Association (TTIA).

"Sagada has long been a place of comfort for many travelers but it is not known to most that the locals were experiencing discomfort due to insufficient water supply, especially during summer when rice fields require added irrigation," Guingona stated.

Water began to fill the tanks of houses in the town of Sagada in December 2015, as projected by CHARMP2 early in July 2015. However, the events that led to the implementation were not without impediments.

"It is a community effort; it would have not been possible had the leaders and residents allowed individual interests to prevail over communal development," Guingona added.

In 2011, after being appropriated with P18 million from Guingona's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Sagada LGU was still unable to immediately survey Buasao Spring since TTIA holds water rights over the spring and it might deny access like in previous attempts. Eventually, months of exploratory talks between Sagada LGU and TTIA resulted in the permission to finally conduct a survey of the water source.

The hydrological study conducted by a multi-disciplinary team showed that Buasao Spring discharges 40 liters of water per second, more than enough to supply irrigation to Tanulong rice fields at five liters per second and to domestic water at 12 liters per second, with 6" GI pipes recommended for use. For the entire project, then known as "Sagada Domestic Water Supply," the amount required was P40 million.

With still a huge amount to fill, Sagada LGU convened with the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Region Field Unit (DA-CARFU) and CHARMP2 to seek financial support. In principle, CHARMP2 agreed to also provide P18 million as its own counterpart, provided that LGU and TTIA resolve the deadlock.

Consultations and negotiations with the Tanulong tribe and their key elders soon led to TTIA supporting the project and signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which posited several conditions.

In 2012, Sagada LGU awarded the contract to FFJJ Construction. With a large portion of the workers involved are Sagadans, the town's biggest water project was about to go in full swing. However, another delay presented itself in the form of a rock formation that blocked the construction of the diversion tunnel. Material procurement and protests also beset the project.

In 2013, following a political disruption and work slowdown due to heavy monsoon rains, the municipality of Tubo, Abra also raised its rights to the watershed. A meeting among Sagada LGU, TTIA, and the elders and officials of Tubo resulted in the agreement that the Abra town does not oppose the entirety of the project, however, the issue of overlapping boundary must be resolved on a later date.

In 2014, after an investigation conducted regarding the issues raised against the project, variations were made on the projected, mainly the inclusion of another pipeline that would make the water system flow farther than Sitio Capinitan, supplying water to Central Zone through the the distribution tank in Palidan, Bangaan. The first pipeline, leading to Sitio Capinitan, would provide water to the northern barangays and the Eastern Zone.

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