Regional Updates (09/29/30)

Bill creating Basilan State University gets House nod

THE HOUSE of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill that will upgrade the Basilan State College (BASSC) into a full state university. Voting 196-0 with no abstentions, congressmen approved House Bill 7697, the measure converting the BASSC in Isabela City, along with its extension campuses in different parts of Basilan, into the Basilan State University. “We are inching closer to the dream of many Basilenos of having our own state university within our beloved province, which will offer more courses, take in more students and level up the academic performance of not only those in Basilan, but also those from nearby areas,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv S. Hataman, one of the principal authors of the bill, said in a statement on Tuesday. A counterpart bill in the Senate is pending. Aside from the conversion of BASSC to a university, Mr. Hataman is also pushing for the creation of a Basilan Science High School, Sports Academy, and a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority office in Isabela City. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

NWRB reduces Metro Manila’s water allocation, but no impact on household supply

THE NATIONAL Water Resources Board (NWRB) again reduced the water allocation for Metro Manila to 44 cubic meters per second (cms) from 46 cms due to the lower water level of Angat Dam. In a radio interview on Tuesday, NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David Jr. said the reduction will help Angat Dam recover from its deteriorating water level. “While waiting for rainfall to arrive, we decided to reduce the water allocation for Metro Manila so that we can manage the current level of Angat Dam and prevent its further decline,” he said. Mr. David said the lower water allocation will not have any adverse effects on consumers, noting that there are other sources such as Ipo Dam and La Mesa Dam. Metro Manila’s two water concessionaires also assured that household supply will not be affected. “Our service levels won’t be affected because local rains at the Ipo watershed keep the water elevation in Ipo Dam high, and this augments the shortfall from Angat Dam,” Maynilad Water Services, Inc. Head of Corporate Communications Jennifer C. Rufo said in a mobile phone message. Manila Water Co. Inc. Corporate Strategic Affairs Head Nestor Jeric T. Sevilla, meanwhile, said they are ready to maximize their Cardona Treatment Plant in Rizal and other deepwells in case water supply needs to be augmented. “(W)e will continue to provide 24/7 supply to our customers except during emergency repairs and necessary maintenance activities,” he said. On Tuesday morning, Angat’s water level was at 177.94 meters, which is below the minimum operating level of 180 meters, based on data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The dam’s normal elevation is 212 meters. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

DCWD on track with expanded water distribution system project

THE DAVAO City Water District (DCWD) is almost done with the first phase of its expanded distribution system, which is needed for the bulk supply that will be delivered by the Aboitiz-controlled Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. “Almost all of the Phase 1 projects are already completed. These are crucial to the acceptance of water from Apo Agua and distribution to the customers,” DCWD Deputy Spokesperson Jovana Cresta T. Duhaylungsod said in a phone interview. The initial phase covers storage facilities and pipelines. Ms. Duhaylungsod said Phase 2 of the distribution project involves additional transmission lines that are targeted for completion in 2021. Apo Agua, a joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and JV Angeles Construction Corp., recently reported that it has been ramping up construction work after quarantine restrictions were eased in May. “We are ramping up our construction activities while implementing the appropriate health protocols in our offices and project sites per government guidelines. As we confront the challenges brought by this pandemic, we are set on delivering this project by 2021 while keeping our people’s health and safety a priority,” Apo Agua Operations Head Shake A. Tuason said in a July 22 statement. The P12.6 billion bulk supply project will source water from the Tamugan River and deliver 300 million liters daily to DCWD. — Maya M. Padillo

Returning resident is Batanes’ 1st COVID-19 case

BATANES, the northernmost island province, reported its first coronavirus case on Tuesday, a returning resident who arrived on September 22 on board a Philippine Air Force repatriation flight. The provincial government assured that the 29-year old patient, with travel history from a quarantine facility in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna and asymptomatic, is already at the Batanes Resort, a designated isolation facility for coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). The patient arrived along with 18 other stranded residents. “All identified close contacts and other LSIs (locally stranded individuals) under quarantine are being strictly monitored by the Provincial COVID-Task Group,” the provincial government said in a statement on its official Facebook page. Cesar Roldan A. Esdicul, provincial disaster risk reduction officer, said all incoming flights have now been suspended for two weeks to allow local authorities to manage the situation. “(Flights are) on hold po muna for the next 14 days,” he said over radion dzBB. The provincial government also appealed to residents to “avoid spreading fake and unverified information that creates fear and panic. Let us also avoid having prejudices and discrimination towards people who are under quarantine.” — Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

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