Water firm wants to evict livestock raiser from Mt. Magdiwata watershed
AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines – Officials of a local water utility here will not pay for the farm animals raised inside the Mt. Magdiwata watershed where a new water source project is being developed.
The board of directors of San Francisco Water District (SFWD) has said it will not agree to a demand of payment from Richard Polmon for the farm animals he has raised within the watershed located 300 meters upstream from the Sumogbong Creek in Barangay (village) Alegria, where a water intake dam is being built for the drinking needs of thousands of residents.
The SFWD has expressed alarm over the presence of Polmon’s livestock farm, which could contaminate the water source and cause waterborne diseases such as E.coli or even the dreaded Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite resistant to Chlorine-based disinfectants.
Polmon has sought P13,000 as compensation during a settlement at the Alegria village council. He has agreed to leave the area without dismantling the structures used to raise goats, chickens and ducks within an area of some 3,000 square meters. Goat feces were all around the goat-herding house.
The SFWD officials has rejected Polmon’s demand, saying there is no legal basis to disburse funds to him.
“The act of Polmon is considered nuisance per se,” Elmer Luzon, SFWD general manager, said in his letter to Alegria village chair Solomon Rufila.
The SFWD board has decided not to pay Polmon during a meeting.
Luzon, in an interview, said even if the farm animals were provided by the Philippine Coconut Authority as part of its livestock livelihood program, animal raising in the government proclaimed watershed has been prohibited because it could contaminate drinking water sources.
He said Proclamation No. 282 signed in 1993 by then president Fidel Ramos declared 1,658 hectares of Mt. Magdiwata a permanent watershed.
Luzon also said Polmon could not establish ownership of the land, neither was he one of the original inhabitants of the watershed before its proclamation as a watershed.
The SFWD has asked Rufila to order Polmon to immediately dismantle the livestock farm and transfer the farm animals outside the watershed area.
Officials have warned Polmon has only 15 days to vacate or they will ask the local police to dismantle the farm.
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