National irrigation administration. ENCLOSED PHOTO
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, La Union: National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Ricardo Visaya and two other NIA officials in Region 1 have been charged with the Ombudsman’s office for allegedly extorting money from a contractor and for their alleged inefficiency in solving farmers’ water supply problems.
This was announced by officials and members of the Citizens ‘Movement Against Corruption, Crime, Illegal Drugs and Gambling Inc., headed by Prof. Salvador Singson-de Guzman, at his meeting with several farmers’ leaders in La Union and Pangasinan on Saturday, September 18th .
De Guzman said he had also filed blackmail and estafa (fraud) criminal cases against Visaya, along with the acting regional director of the NIA for Region 1, Angelito Miguel, and Gaudencio de Vera, department head of the Pangasinan Irrigation Management Office.
They also face gross neglect, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of their duties.
De Vera and Miguel were accused by farmers who were unable to grow rice in the first harvest from June to September due to a lack of water.
De Guzman said the water supply to five irrigation systems – Agno, Sinocalan, Lower Agno, Ambayaoan and Dipalo – was cut from April to September.
Some 30,000 hectares of rice land were reportedly affected.
The NIA officials said they were ready to face the charges.
“[I will] wait for that [official] Summons from the Ombudsman, “Visaya said in a text message to the Manila Times on Monday.
In a statement sent to the Times by Eden Victoria Selva, assistant director of the Public Affairs and Information Staff office, the NIA said: “All allegations of corruption and extortion are unfounded and unfounded.”
“Repeating the San Roque Power Corporation’s reservoir level forecast for the San Roque Multipurpose Dam, which is operated by the National Power Corporation (NPC), the reservoir will reach the critical level of 22.5 meters above sea level at which a Such a scenario would make them unable to use the system eight hours a day to meet the contractually agreed output of 115 megawatts x 8 hours during peak periods ) Irrigation system has not been approved. The NIA does not blame anyone because these circumstances are beyond our control, “the NIA statement said.
âThe latest release failed to substantiate these anomalies and allegations, which are intended only to degrade the competence of NIA officials. These also tend to undermine or set aside the many socio-economic benefits of irrigation projects for the community, especially for our farmers. “
De Guzman also alleged that one of the contractors, Ramon Velasco, had made an affidavit accusing de Vera and Miguel of extorting 500,000 pesos from him. The money was a bribe to allow him to tender to build a dam in Bugallon, Pangasinan.
Miguel is said to have received the money from Velasco on August 23, 2020 while de Vera acted as moderator at their meeting.
In his affidavit dated Aug. 5, 2021, Velasco said de Vera and Miguel were asking for 1 million pesos, supposedly for Visaya and 500,000 pesos for them.
Velasco paid 500,000 pesos in installment.
Velasco promised to deliver the full amount of 1 million pesos once it won the project.
Velasco later discovered that the project had been outsourced to another construction company.
Velasco said he visited the two officers at their Urdaneta City office on September 3, 2020.
He was told that the 500,000 pesos he had given were not accepted by Visaya’s men because there was insufficient money.
NIA officials denied the allegations.
“The tendering process for all irrigation projects was carried out by the headquarters and the branch offices of the Bidder and Award Committee A (BAC-A) nationwide in accordance with the revised Implementing Regulations (IRR) 2016 of the Public Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act) 9184). The projects (in question) are not excluded from this process, âexplained Eden Victoria Selva, Deputy Head of Department at the NIA.
“The elimination of corruption and corruption is at the top of the four-point agenda of the NIA administrator Ricardo R. Visaya.”
De Guzman’s group also discovered another corruption in the NIA office, where some of the suspected retired military officers are also collecting money from contractors who wanted to tender for the infrastructure projects.
However, de Guzman admitted that they have no evidence to support such an allegation.
With reports from Jordeene Lagare