COA flags P1.2-B worth of delayed, scrapped irrigation projects | Inquirer News

COA flags P1.2-B worth of delayed, scrapped irrigation projects

/ 05:48 AM August 05, 2023

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State auditors have called out the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for the delays or termination of 83 projects covering three calendar years and amounting to a total of P1.2 billion.

In its annual report on the NIA, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted “significant delays” ranging from one month to 780 calendar days or more than two years for irrigation projects programmed for completion by 2020, 2021 and 2022.


The COA said its conclusions on the delayed projects were a “reiteration” of its previous audits of the NIA.


Auditors said 33 contracts, worth a total of P99.7 million and constituting a majority of the delayed projects, were under the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (Mariis) in Isabela province.

These projects were delayed from 32 to 368 calendar days, the COA said, citing such factors as “unsatisfactory performance” by contractors, insufficient manpower and equipment, unresolved right of way (ROW) issues, late release of funds, change or revision of plans, and “poor project planning, supervision, monitoring and control.”

The audit agency noted further that the NIA granted contract time extensions (CTEs) to several irrigation contracts, “which further delayed their completion [and] thus deprived the intended beneficiaries of the timely use of these irrigation projects.”


But other circumstances had also disrupted some of the projects, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, standing crops and unworkable sites brought by bad weather.

Apart from the contracts under Mariis, the remaining 50 delayed projects are a P2.7-million contract under the Irrigation Management Office (IMO) of Apayao province; two contracts worth P16.9 million under the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project; 14 contracts worth P764.2 million under the NIA’s regional office in Cagayan Valley; 24 contracts worth P255.6 million under Isabela’s IMO; a P4.7-million contract under the IMO of Cagayan and Batanes provinces; a P3.5-million contract under Palawan’s IMO; and seven contracts worth P81.2 million under Camarines Sur’s IMO.

The COA cited the same reasons for their delay, from “unsatisfactory performance” to bad weather.


Regarding the stalled irrigation projects in 2020 and 2021, the audit agency said “issues on [their] delayed implementation … have not been resolved yet by the NIA management in CY (calendar year) 2022.”

As for last year’s delayed projects, auditors cited their “deficient planning and monitoring.”

“These have been recurring as management has not fully addressed these deficiencies noted in previous years,” the COA added.


The NIA had also terminated 14 irrigation contracts worth a total of P139.46 million, which the COA said was due to either the “contractor’s fault” or the NIA’s decision to end some of these contracts “for convenience,” if still in compliance with law.

Thirteen of these contracts were under the NIA’s regional office in Zamboanga Peninsula and had an estimated total of P127.8 million.

The remaining contract, estimated at P11.6 million, was under the IMO of Camarines Sur. The COA noted a delay in the termination itself, spanning 86 calendar days.

These terminated contacts “resulted in wastage of government funds,” the audit agency said, adding that the NIA should “ensure that no bidding and awarding of contracts [be] made unless detailed engineering investigations, surveys and designs, including the acquisition of the ROW … and other relevant conditions are duly considered.”

The NIA should also require contractors to regularly submit progress reports, and impose liquidated damages on contractors who delay their projects.

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The agency was advised further to file charges against erring or defaulting contractors and impose sanctions on officials and personnel found to be “remiss [in] their duties,” state auditors said.

Reached by the Inquirer on Friday, the NIA said “its concerned offices are still consolidating information and … were given 30 to 60 days to directly respond to auditors.”

—With a report from Jordeene B. Lagare


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TAGS: COA, Irrigation, National Irrigation Administration

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