P10-M annual budget to maintain Magat Dam not enough — NIA
MANILA, Philippines — The P10-million budget being spent on maintaining Magat Dam annually is not enough, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) revealed Tuesday.
During the House committee’s joint hearing on agriculture and food and the committee on North Luzon growth quadrangle, NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya was asked if the agency has an estimated cost and time to maintain Magat Dam.
In response, Visaya said the agency spends P5 million to P10 million annually to maintain the dam but quickly added that it was not enough.
“Kulang po ‘yun (It’s not enough to maintain its optimal state),” Visaya said.
“Dahil nga po sa kulang ang budget so malaki ‘yung pagkukulang pa (Because the budget is not enough, there are really drawbacks),” he added.
Visaya could not provide an exact amount when asked for an estimated amount that it would take so that Magat Dam can be maintained properly.
“Accordingly, kagaya nga ng sinabi ng DPWH kanina, ang pag-desilt sa Cagayan River, it takes billions of pesos. Like Magat din, accordingly, billions of pesos din,” Visaya said.
(Like what the DPWH said earlier, desilting the Cagayan River takes billions of pesos. Accordingly, it would also take billions of pesos for Magat.)
Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose Singson Jr. then pointed out that there has been “a lot” of cases where the country builds infrastructure but fails to maintain them properly.
The hearing was conducted following the flooding in Cagayan and Isabela as Typhoon Ulysses struck the country.
Following the flooding, some local government officials pointed their fingers at the NIA’s decision to discharge water from the Magat Dam, which they believe heavily contributed to the flooding in their areas.
However, in the same hearing, Visaya said he does not believe NIA was a “major cause” of the flooding in the two provinces. [ac]