Sunday, February 23, 2014

NIA Board denies agency scams, orders probe

Manila-The Board of Directors of the National Irrigation Administration yesterday denied the allegations of its own employees’ association of massive corruption in the agency.
In a press statement, the Board decried the allegations but nevertheless directed the internal audit services of the agency to look into the allegations.  
The Board described the accusations as “untrue, malicious and unfair.”
The Board was reacting to the manifesto of the National Irrigation Administration Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP) which asked President Aquino to investigate alleged corruption in the agency amid reports of irregularities in the bidding and implementation of irrigation projects and the purported meddling of the Board 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. It was read during a flag-raising ceremony at the central office last February 10.
          Also yesterday, employees of the agency held a lightning rally at the central office compound along NIA Road in Quezon City to protest the alleged corruption. The employees wore black arm bands. 
While denying the allegations, the Board said it is taking cognizance of the NIAEASP’s complaints and is taking steps to address the same.
It said it is committed to implement needed reforms and adhere to the highest tenets of good governance at NIA.
The protesting employees 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.
          The NIAEASP said one of the top agency officials 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.  
          The group had 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.
          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.
          Other signatories to the manifesto 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     


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