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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

NIA chief admits anomalies cause protracted delays in infra projects

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The acting chief of the Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Thursday admitted that there was corruption in the agency.

Testifying at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on alleged irregularities in irrigation projects, acting NIA administrator Eduardo Guillen Eduardo hesitantly admitted there were irregularities such as long delayed implementation of projects.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo castigated Guillen for evading questions raised during the hearing.
“Don’t include other agencies. I’m just talking about NIA Let’s accept it. You agree? Kasi the only time you can solve a corruption problem in the agency you are handling is to accept that there is corruption. Kasi, if you don’t accept that there is corruption, how can you solve that corruption problem? Denial is not the right answer,” Tulfo told Guillen.

Guillen admitted that there were “lapses” within the agency, but Tulfo argued that “lapses” and “corruption” were two different matters.

Asked again to admit if there’s corruption in NIA, Guillen answered in the affirmative.

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“So you admit that there’s corruption? Right? So if there’s corruption, we must solve this. So you admit that there’s corruption?” Tulfo again asked.

“Yes po. Kaya inaayos natin iyong sistema,” Guillen responded.

Tulfo also chided Guillen for ostensibly “sugarcoating” his answers.

“Gagamitan mo ako ng salitang lapses, isu-sugarcoat mo pa…So meron korapsyon sa NIA, ina-admit mo na. Kaya nandyan ka, so-solve-in mo at tutulong ka. You’re not gonna be a part of the problem, but you’re gonna be part of the solution,” the senator said.

Guillen admitted that there are delayed NIA projects including the Balog Balog Dam in Tarlac which was initiated during the watch of former President Corazon Aquino.

“May mga delayed po na projects… Mahirap kasi iyong nasa anomaly kasi deep investigation po talaga iyan. Ang nakita ko po, may mga delayed na project, like in the case of Balog Balog (dam)… Iyong mga delayed projects po, in-issue-han namin kaagad iyong mga contractors ng catch-up plan,” Guillen said.

Former NIA administrator Ricardo Visaya explained that the Balog Balog Dam in Tarlac was composed of two phases. The first phase started in 1999 and continued until 2012, while the second phase should have started in 2013, but there were several issues that hindered them from constructing the dam, including the opposition of residents to the construction of a high dam in their area.

Tulfo delivered last May a privilege speech seeking a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into the alleged corruption in the NIA resulting in unfinished infrastructure projects.

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