February 5, 2023
FLOOD CONTROL CONTROVERSY — Lawyer Richard Kilaan, lead convenor of the League of Farmers and legal counsel of the Swamp Farmers Association Inc. explained the contents of the letter addressed to the Department of Public Works and Highways-Benguet Engineering District, which calls for the agency to terminate and transfer the implementation of the flood control project in another area. Otherwise, the farmers represented will be constrained to file the appropriate criminal, civil, and administrative action in court to protect their rights and interests. — Contributed photo

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Strawberry farmers at the swamp area requested the termination and transfer of a flood control project that affects the land where they are tilling.
The request was made in a letter to De Isagani Cayme, OIC district engineer of the Benguet Engineering District of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-BED).
“In a consultation held on Feb. 18 attended by members of the Swamp Farmers Association Inc. (SFAI); representatives of the Benguet State University, Betag barangay officials; and representatives of your office, it appears there was no prior consultation and BSU and SFAI have no knowledge, or gave their consent to the flood control project,” read the letter of lawyer Richard B. Kilaan, legal counsel of the SFAI.
“The property where you intend to implement the flood control project is property of BSU and SFAI has an existing lease contract with BSU. Hence, their prior consent is needed before any project or undertaking is to be implemented in the property.
We request your good office to terminate and to and transfer the flood control project to other areas.”
SFAI president Peter S. Bulangen said they were surprised when DPWH personnel arrived with construction materials and told them to start vacating the lands they are tending because the DPWH will start with the construction of the flood control project.
“We requested for dredging of the canals especially downstream years back, but we grew tired of waiting for our request to be granted. Then a few days ago, DPWH informed us that we should vacate our farms because of this project,” he said.
“We never requested for steel and construction of new flood control project. What we requested was dredging as the JICA-funded flood control project is still in good condition,” he said. – Press release