Senators uncover ‘cash cows’ of NIA officials | Inquirer News

Senators uncover ‘cash cows’ of NIA officials

/ 05:36 AM August 25, 2023

Senators uncover ‘cash cows’ of NIA officials

Raffy Tulfo (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

Senators on Thursday pushed the filing of corruption charges against National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials who were allegedly responsible for numerous abandoned and defective irrigation projects that purportedly became cash cows for unscrupulous personnel over the years.

At the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, Sen. Raffy Tulfo hit former and current NIA officials for their negligence in tolerating defective, incomplete and ghost irrigation projects, which, he said, should have helped the country’s farmers increase their rice production.


“In a lot of cases, unscrupulous individuals are raking in profits from these irrigation projects, like seeking funding for maintenance, but in truth, no maintenance is done and the funding only goes straight to their pockets. That’s the reason we’re here because we want to hold responsible people accountable,” he said.


The Senate inquiry stemmed from Tulfo’s May 16 privilege speech, wherein he exposed the alleged irregularities in irrigation projects, many of which were delayed by more than five years.

He cited a report by the team he sent to verify the projects, which found that many of these were not functioning, supposedly due to poor workmanship or use of substandard materials while others were abandoned because of failed contracts.

In many of the projects, the contracts were awarded to “favored” contractors, he said.

The NIA also supposedly gave credence to falsified reports of completion, which became the basis for the payment in full of contractors.

28 anomalous projects

“According to the NIA Inspection and Assessment Team, there are 28 anomalous irrigation projects, [while] P890 million was allocated for projects but the project’s construction was never started,” he said.

“Filipino consumers are wailing due to the high price of rice, which further worsened their situation because they can now barely afford to buy rice; sadly, our farmers cannot produce enough because the funds for their irrigation is being plundered at the expense of the farmers and the people,” he said.


The senator vowed to introduce legislation to prevent a repeat of the abuses committed in the implementation of irrigation projects.

Tulfo lamented that the NIA has managed to irrigate only 65.28 percent of the 3.13 million hectares of total irrigable areas in the Philippines, and only 36 of the 80 target provinces and chartered cities have received agricultural machinery, equipment, facilities and small-scale irrigation projects.

Need more evidence

“With the thousands of your irrigation projects, if only these were implemented properly and were constructed, we would perhaps not need to import rice by now; instead, we may already be exporting rice,” he said.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said they will summon private contractors and other personalities in the coming hearings to provide testimonies on the reasons for the defects and the delays, amid suspicion that some of them may be in cahoots with erring NIA officials.

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But the senator was quick to clarify that his committee will need to receive more evidence, showing caution not to preempt the panel’s findings.


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TAGS: anomalous contracts, National Irrigation Administration, Raffy Tulfo

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