Bohol map. INQUIRER FILES
MANILA, Philippines — A Bohol-based organization has filed a complaint against Bohol 1st District Rep. Edgar Chatto before the House Committee on ethics and privileges for allegedly meddling in the water source dispute between two towns in the province.
In their complaint dated August 10, Bohol Clean Water Alliance (BCWA) officials Emmanuel Ramasola and Erastus Leopando claimed that not only did Chatto got himself involved in the dispute between the towns of Sevilla and Balilihan regarding the use of Bugwak Spring, but that he also influenced Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.
The complainants alleged that Chatto intervened during the then-proposed 2023 budget deliberations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last September 2022, where the lawmaker supposedly influenced a ruling towards Balilihan town, which is headed by his wife, Mayor Pureza Chatto.
They cited the transcript of the budget hearing to note that Chatto “subtly recommended to the DENR Secretary to give preference to LGUs over private entities.”
“By his manifestation where he subtly recommended to the DENR Secretary to give preference to LGUs (local government units) over private entities, he unduly influenced the outcome of the pending motion for reconsideration filed by LGU Balilihan represented by his wife, Mayor Puresa Veloso in a pending water dispute with Richli Corporation,” the complainants said in a 21-page complaint.
“By so doing, Representative Chatto violated the spirit if not the letter of the provisions of the Code of Conduct, specifically letters (f) and (g) of Section 142 of the Rules of the House of Representatives,” they added.
Richli Corporation is a local company that sought a water permit from the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), which filed a petition to cancel their permit against Balilihan as the Bugwak Spring was reportedly located in Sevilla town.
Complainants claimed that Chatto’s support for the DENR and NWRB budget — an agency that is attached under the said department — led to the granting of Balilihan’s motion for reconsideration.
“Due to Representative Chatto’s undue intervention in its proceedings, despite the obvious invalidity of the LGU Balilihan’s CWP (certificate of water permit), the NWRB rendered a Resolution on January 20, 2023 granting LGU Balilihan’s Motion for Reconsideration,” the complainants claimed.
Aside from these reasons, the complainants also mentioned the following reasons why the House Committee on ethics and privileges must sanction Chatto.
- supposedly showing improper interest in water permit granted by the NWRB
- allegedly intervening in a a pending matter before the NWRB
Chatto’s office has not yet released a statement to counter the allegations, while DENR has not responded to questions about the complainants’ claims.
However, the two LGUs’ dispute over the use of Bugwak Spring is not new. Last June 2023, government employees of Sevilla town removed the pumps and pipes owned by Balilihan’s LGU after the Sevilla local council passed a resolution December 2022 that allowed Mayor Juliet Dano to demolish supposedly “illegal structures”. With reports from Ivana Romero, INQUIRER.net trainee
Sevilla town in Bohol removes Balilihan water supply system
Bohol water facility construction spat: Sevilla asks Balilihan to pull out project
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