Monday, February 17, 2014

Employees association ask P-Noy : probe corruption at NIA

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – The National Irrigation Administration Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP) has asked President Aquino to investigate alleged corruption and other anomalies in the agency amid reports of irregularities in the bidding and implementation of irrigation projects and the purported meddling of the NIA Board of Directors (BOD) in the workings of NIA Administrator Claro Maranan.
          In a two-page February 6 letter-manifesto to Mr. Aquino, which was furnished Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the NIAEASP lamented what it termed as the “very serious and alarming developments” in the agency, contrary to the President’s “Daang Matuwid” policy of governance.
          The strongly worded letter-manifesto was signed by NIAEASP national president Victorino Aron and national vice president Louella Mercado.
          The group alleged that a top official ordered the payment of 50 percent of the billing of a contractor who has a project in Sarangani province even if the concerned official is fully aware that the said contractor has no physical accomplishment. “This practice is going on in other provinces and COA (Commission on Audit) records will support our claim,” the group said.
          It added that another top official ordered the repackaging of projects from administration works to local minor contracts worth P105 million, purportedly to draw kickbacks.
          “It is a common knowledge in the agency that projects implemented by administration do not generate SOP (standard operating procedure), thus you can make your own conclusion as to why the official concerned did not allow it to be implemented that way,” the group told Aquino. SOP is a euphemism for kickbacks.
          The NIAEASP said one of the deputy administrators of the agency designated by Alcala is allegedly boasting that he will assume as Maranan’s successor next month. This, it said,  in spite of the fact that the said official has pending cases for graft and corruption in the Office of the Ombudsman.  
          At the same time, the group accused the BOD of arbitrarily and capriciously issuing policies that usurped the powers of Maranan by arrogating to itself the authority to approve the appointment of officials holding the position with salary Grade 24 and above.
          Worse, the BOD also changed the authority delegated to top officials that tend to favor and facilitate corruption in the agency, particularly in the bidding and implementation of projects.
          “The Board has likewise sown havoc and demoralization among the ranks of regional managers, project managers, department managers and irrigation management office managers through its indiscriminate reshuffling of officials who are not cooperative and are considered obstacles to the evil schemes of top Board and agency officials who are presently enriching themselves in office at the expense of poor farmers and the taxpayers’ money,” the group said.         
          The NIAEASP officials asked the President to order a formal investigation of the above-cited allegations. They said they are willing to cooperate in the investigation by furnishing his office with documents.
          “Mr. President, we can give you a litany of highly anomalous and irregular transactions in NIA that have been going on for sometime,” it added.
          In pressing for the investigation of the culture of corruption at NIA, the NIAEASP reminded the Chief Executive of his promise to closely monitor the agency’s activities when he graced its 50th anniversary celebrations last June 25. “This is now the right time to closely examine the activities of the officials you entrusted to run NIA,” the document read.

Other signatories were national secretary Antonio Esquivel Jr., national treasurer Cecilia Layug, national press relations officer Eduardo Yu, national business manager Carlos dela Cruz, sectoral representatives Lourdes Amurao and Moises Batocabe, Balog-Balog Multi-purpose Project president Cresencio Magbag, Agno River Irrigation Project president Susan Zambrano, Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project presidents Alberto Samson and Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems president Ernesto Ponce and district presidents Paulita Yagyagan (Cordillera Administrative Region), Placido Duldulao (Region 1), Avelino Tuazon (region 2), Alvin Roberto David (Region 3), Bienvenido Anterola (Region 4B); Arthur Sanico (Region 6), Elvira Alvarado (Region 7), Erlinda Superable (Region 8), Albine Jubilado (Region 9), Arlene Sumayo (Region 10), Ryan Pichon (Region 11), Willie Ablan (Region 12) and Joel Culejara (Region 13). (Manny Galvez)     

Legarda Supports Promotion of Non-Motorized Transpo

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today expressed her support to the cause of the Share the Road Movement towards safer and cleaner roads through the promotion of non-motorized transportation.

“As I convey my support to this campaign, I congratulate Atty. Tony Oposa and the Share the Road Movement for championing environmental causes as well as the right of Filipinos for a healthier society,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources, and Climate Change.

“Among the advocacies I have been promoting is the shift to a low-carbon lifestyle and rethinking our mode of transportation is one of the crucial steps towards this initiative,” she added.

The Share the Road Movement led by Atty. Oposa filed a petition for a writ of kalikasan and mandamus before the Supreme Court compelling government to “divide the roads in half: half for cars and half for collective transport systems, like all-weather bike lanes and sidewalks, bus rapid transit, and public trains.”

The group, which noted a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the transport sector contributes 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, proceeded to the Senate for the ceremonial turnover of the draft bill on Sustainable Transportation.
In supporting the group’s cause, Legarda, author of various environmental laws including the Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act, stressed on the need to shift to mass rail, human-powered transport and pedestrianization. 

“We should start venturing into transport electrification and energy efficiency. Walking, biking, taking public transport, and carpooling are energy and cost-efficient transport modes that we should always consider whenever possible,” she said.

She explained that local government units should make roads walkable and pedestrian-friendly. Sidewalks and bicycle lanes should also be built to encourage use of these modes of transport.

“It may take time before we see this coming into fruition but with political will to faithfully implement our laws and the active campaign of advocacy groups, especially those behind the Share the Road Movement, we can make this happen,” Legarda concluded.


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