Majority of the City Council approved on second reading the application of Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. (AAII) for an additional allowable use for the establishment of a Water Treatment Facility in Barangay Gumalang, Baguio District.
However, the project’s approval is subject to the conditions set by Councilor Jesus Joseph Zozobrado, who initially indicated his intention to abstain from voting due to certain environmental and other concerns. That would have left the bulk water project hanging once again.
AAII’s bulk water project has remained unapproved for several sessions already due to lack of 21 votes needed.
AAII is a partnership between Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) and J.V. Angeles Construction Corp. (JVACC).
Councilor Rene Elias Lopez first presented the request on June 6 but it was remanded to the committee level for further discussion after several issues were raised including the protest of Barangay Tamugan regarding the assignment of the Davao City Water District’s (DCWD) water rights to Apo Agua.
Zozobrado said the building of any structure on the watershed is a prohibited act but it did provide for an exemption including majority vote of all the members and upon proof and showing that said structure enclosure, or conduct of business shall be beneficial to the watershed areas.
Despite his belief that the previous council approved the exemption with the said conditions in mind, he believes that these conditions were not sufficiently and convincingly showed.
While this is beneficial to the water system of Davao as it will provide a respite to the underground sources, he said Tamugan is part of water system and this will be affected by the project.
In the zoning ordinance, he said it is stated the additional allowable use maybe allowed by the Council provided it fulfills its objective has socio economic and environment significance. It should also not adversely affect the environment and will not alter the zone or subzone.
“There is no doubt the project being proposed of Apo Agua will contribute to the development of the city. Projects such as this are laudable, but during deliberation of this item I raised several concerns, unfortunately, some of these concerns have not been sufficiently addressed,” he said.
He said the operations will not only be in Gumalang but will traverse to Tamugan river which is a watershed area.
“Since it is classified as an industrial business it will alter the character of the zone and subzone. Once we allow its approval without solving the legitimate issues we will face legal and environmental problems,” he said.
Zozobrado however voted yes after getting Orig’s commitment on several matters including a letter from the Department of Energy on the exclusivity of the joint venture and the assurance that the excess power generated from the hydropower source will be exclusively used for the bulk water project. Lovely A. Carillo