NWRB orders Bohol town to explain water extraction activity in neighboring municipality


The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has ordered the municipality of Balilihan in Bohol to explain the validity of its conditional water permit to extract water from its neighboring town of Sevilla.

The order was in response to Sevilla town’s petition dated January 18, 2023 asking NWRB to restrain the municipality of Balilihan from extracting water from Bugwak Spring located in Barangay Magsaysay, Sevilla.

In its petition, the local government unit (LGU) of Sevilla stressed that Balilihan town “does not have a valid water permit issued by NWRB to appropriate water from the Bugwak Spring at Barangay Magsaysay, Sevilla, Bohol.”

Based on the NWRB order, the Balilihan LGU , was directed to file an answer, not a motion to dismiss, to the said petition within 10 days from receipt. The order was signed by NWRB Litigation and Adjudication Section lawyer, Rebyanne Giselle Diaz.

Aside from lacking proper permits, LGU Sevilla stressed “the requirements of Posting and Sending of Notice under Sec. 9 of the Amended Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Water Code were not complied with.”

Last year, on June 6, 2022, NWRB received a letter from Sevilla town opposing the conditional water permit issued to Balilihan “on the ground, among others, that LGU Balilihan failed to secure the necessary legal permit from Brgy. Magsaysay and LGU Sevilla.”

The case started in May 2022 when residents of Barangay Magsaysay, Sevilla complained to their mayor, Juliet Dano, about the ongoing construction in their community, including the installation of water lines.

In a related development, a private lot owner has sued LGU Balilihan for building a P95-million water facility on its property.

In a petition filed before the Court of Appeals, Richli Corporation, represented by lawyer Eldrige Marvin Aceron, said the water permit that LGU Balilihan secured from NWRB contained “inaccurate” information on the location of Bugwak Spring’s diversion point.

“[NWRB] gave credence to [LGU Balilihan’s] submission that [LGU Balilihan] will utilize an unclassified dry land, which forms part of public land…to install the pipelines from the end of the barangay road down to Bugwak Spring. [NWRB] supported [LGU Balilihan] submission that construction of new water supply system will not pass through Richli’s properties,” Richli said in its petition.

But as proof that the company owns the property on which the project was built, Richli presented the deeds of absolute sale on three lots surrounding Bugwak Spring. The company’s Court of Appeals petition also support earlier petitions of LGU Sevilla, which insists that the project is located in Sevilla and not in Balilihan.