Fight over project funds behind Kidapawan blasts, says governor
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—A fight over funds for an irrigation project being undertaken by the National Irrigation Administration was behind two recent bombings outside the neighboring offices of the Commission on Audit and the NIA here, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza said on Monday.
Mendoza told the Inquirer that this was the confession of one of the two bomb couriers before he died from shrapnel wounds following the August 12 explosion outside the NIA office in Barangay Amas here. An earlier bombing occurred outside the COA office last June.
“It has nothing to do with the ongoing peace negotiations,” Mendoza said. “[It was a] good thing one of the bombers managed to give information before he passed out. It seems that NIA people are involved.”
Mendoza said some NIA people were squabbling over funds in connection with the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project.
“They kill each other. That’s sad. What a pity because majority of NIA engineers are Muslims and they are supposed to develop Muslim communities. Until when are you going to make Malmar as a milking cow?” she said.
Mendoza noted that the explosions came at a time the government was seeking P6.2 billion in fresh funds for the Malitubog-Maridagao or Malmar project.
She said corruption in the irrigation project was the same reason she sought an investigation in 2003 when she was still a congressman.
But before the investigation could start, the then NIA provincial administrator, Macmod Mending, along with three others, were killed when a bomb exploded inside a mosque in Barangay Villarica in Midsayap town.
Representative Raymund Democrito Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, has recently filed House Resolution 1641 that seeks an investigation into the project.
“There are serious problems and concerns, which hamper the full completion of the project, including crimes and bloodshed that claimed hundreds of lives,” he said.
In Davao del Norte, the mayors of the rice-producing towns of Carmen, Braulio Dujali and Sto. Tomas expressed support for efforts of Representative Antonio Lagdameo Jr. to sue Felix Razo, NIA regional manager for Southern Mindanao, for alleged involvement in fund irregularities.
“Yes, we support such move one hundred percent,” said Lolita Moral, mayor of Dujali.
Lagdameo wanted Razo sacked and investigated for the alleged disappearance of P120 million in irrigation funds since 2007.
Razo has denied any wrongdoing and said the projects had been properly implemented. He said that Lagdameo’s office was informed only about projects funded with the lawmaker’s development fund.
But Lagdameo said an investigation conducted by his office found that while NIA got the money, the projects it was supposed to have implemented were not visible. He cited the Libuganon River Irrigation System as an example.
Lagdameo said that out of the total fund of P145 million, NIA managed to implement only some P25 million worth of repair and rehabilitation works of the LRIS.
Jose Cabra, treasurer of the Region XI National Irrigation System and Communal Irrigation System Confederation of Irrigators’ Associations (RCIA-XI), said their group was also backing Lagdameo’s move.
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