More irrigation officials should be relieved from office,
advocacy group says



by Siegfrid O. Alegado

July 4, 2013



More irrigation officials should be relieved from office, an advocacy group said on Thursday, two days after the head of the Philippines’ irrigation body was fired. 


“Why should it be Nangel only?” Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Co-convenor of the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said, referring to National Irrigation Administration (NIA) head Antonio Nangel who was sacked for poor performance. “All responsible officials should be relieved, especially those in regional offices that received significant irrigation funds.”


Cantos made these remarks minutes after the group held a press briefing that enumerated findings of its study regarding the NIA’s dismal accomplishments despite receiving substantial allotments from the national budget. 


The study, among others, underscored the agency’s failure to meet its targets. 


In 2010, the NIA received a P13.60 billion budget to irrigate 7,106 hectares of land, the group said, citing its study. Later, the agency received additional funds from the Food Self-Suffiency Program (FSSP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). As a result, the NIA’s allotment and irrigation targets went up to P16.48 billion and 12,989 hectares. 


However, after spending P14.11 billion in 2010, it was only able to 6,603 hectares of land. 


The year 2011 painted a similar picture. 


During that year, P12.79 billion was allotted to the NIA, which, in turn, was supposed to irrigate 21,910 hectares of land. As with the year before, the agency’s funds and targets were increased to P17.91 billion and 33,431 hectares of land respectively. However, after spending P13.65 billion, it was only able to irrigate 23,923 hectares of land. 


These discrepancies have prompted the non-government organization to call for a deeper investigation of the NIA’s low and substandard performance.


“While we are happy with the significant amount of government’s resources spent on irrigation, we have to make sure the people’s money will not be squandered and the long dream of achieving rice self-sufficiency will be attained. Besides, NIA has to earn back the people’s trust with its record of being among the graft-ridden agencies in the government,” Cantos said in a statement. 


The group also said it expects the Commission on Audit to look deeper into the results of its study, adding it should conduct an honest-to-goodness evaluation of the roles of NIA officials in the dismal performance and should be held accountable under the civil service, civil and criminal laws.








Next R1 News | Back to R1 in the News Page



Rice Watch and Action Network

© 2007 All Rights Reserved