Lawmaker: P142 million anomaly just tip of iceberg

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

THE P142-million "anomaly" in the National Irrigation Authority’s (NIA) projects in the second district of Davao del Norte could just be a tip of the iceberg and could have also happened in other areas.

Representative Anton Lagdameo (2nd District, Davao del Norte) who expose the anomaly said the missing P142 million worth of projects in his district is also happening in other areas thus his call for the resignation of NIA Davao Region manager Felix Razo.

Lagdameo said Representative Marc Douglas Cagas IV (1st District, Davao del Sur) and Representative Rommel Amatong (2nd District, Compostela Valley) are also joining him in the call for Razo's resignation since last year.


Surprisingly, the lawmakers appeal to the NIA central office was never granted.

Razo denied insinuation of anomaly in the projects. He said, they only failed to inform the public on the status of the projects.

"Medyo nagkulang lang mi sa information and dissemination campaign sa among mga projects mao nga migawas ang isyu (There may be a lack of information and dissemination campaign in our projects that is why these issues are coming out)," Razo said in an interview with Sun.Star Super Balita on Tuesday.

"Yes, tinuod nga naay P145 million worth of projects being allocated pero miagi na sa proseso (Yes, the P145 million worth of projects existed but all those went through the process)," he added.

Petition to PNoy

The Davao Region National Irrigation System and Communal Irrigation System Confederation of Irrigators Association, allegedly thru the instigation of Razo, wrote a letter to President Benigno Aquino III early this month expressing their support for the continuation of the NIA projects in the region and criticizing Lagdameo for trying to stop the irrigation projects.

The Association also accused Lagdameo's liaison, Princess Aquino, of influence peddling and was behind the temporary suspension of all irrigation projects in Davao del Norte's second district.

In a budget hearing in Congress on Wednesday, Lagdameo however discovered that the supposed letter of support by the Association for NIA manager Razo was orchestrated.

No less than Engineer Encarnacion Soriano, NIA Davao Region Planning Officer, admitted before Lagdameo that she was ordered by Razo to meet with the irrigators on August 2 at the function room of the Brokenshire Convention Center.

"She said the petitions were also prepared ahead of the meeting," Lagdameo narrated. Also present during Soriano's admission were Rep. Cagas, NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Berna Puyat.

Ghost projects

Lagdameo's demand stemmed from the P142,637,603 worth of irrigation projects that were supposed to have been implemented in the second district of this province from 2007 until 2010 but were not.

Lagdameo said based on their records, they have not seen any of these projects implemented contrary to claims of the National Irrigation Authority.

Based on the records from the NIA Central Office Operation Division, there were at least P142,637,603 worth of projects downloaded to the second district of Davao del Norte alone from 2007-2010.

Of the total amount, Lagdameo said his office only received a notice of P15 million back in August 7, 2008 thru the NIA. In May 2009, Lagdameo's office also received notice from NIA regarding a P10 million budget for the restoration/repair/rehabilitation of NIA-assisted irrigation systems in his district.

On June 23, 2009, Lagdameo's office received a copy of the Advice of Sub-Allotment (ASA 101-2009-121) dated April 3, 2009 amounting to P10 million.

"We then followed up the P10 million ASA but Felix Razo, NIA Davao Region manager, told us that the funds were not intended for the second district and that it had been bid out and implemented," Lagdameo said.

According to the congressman, since they were given a copy of ASA the projects should have been intended for his district. Lagdameo said his request for a copy of documents to show that the P10 million worth of projects were really implemented were also unheeded by the NIA officials.

Instead of providing him documents, he was instead asked to make a P20 million funding request to then Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap which he submitted on September 2, 2009.

On February 4, 2010, Lagdameo's liaison officer went to the NIA Central Office to ask a copy of the listing of all funds and projects implemented in their district.

To their surprise, the NIA record showed that a total of P123.65 million worth of projects was implemented in their district in a four-year period.

For this, Lagdameo, along with Cagas and Amatong, demanded for the transfer of Razo for the missing funds. Razo's transfer however did not materialize.

In October 2010, Lagdameo requested the NIA to re-align its projects in his district for the year 2011 to ensure that they will really be implemented and that his office could monitor them. Again, Lagdameo's request was not heeded by the said agency.

Until June 2011, several areas in the 2nd district of Davao del Norte went under the water due to flashflood. Lagdameo said the flooding could have been prevented had the P142 million worth of projects of the NIA were really implemented.

On July 8, 2011, Lagdameo requested both the DA Secretary and the NIA Administrator to hold in abeyance all NIA biddings in his district until the matter of the flooding has been thoroughly investigated. This request was again ignored by Razo, said the congressman.

He said that the latest bidding of the project by NIA was also clouded with doubt as there was a 50 percent markdown from the approved budget contract.

Two P8.393 million projects in Carmen, Davao del Norte were awarded to Tobias Construction and Developer and R.C. Trocio Builder and Construction Supply at only P4.6 million each.

It was learned that the law mandates only as much as 20 percent markdown from the approved budget for contract.

"I am worried that the projects would be substandard and that it may cause more problem in the future rather than solution. That is why I am asking for the re-evaluation of all these projects," Lagdameo said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 19, 2011.

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