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Plan to buy drones for P5.8M raises eyebrows

/ 12:02 AM May 29, 2016

ILOILO CITY—The planned purchase of two drones for a megadam project in Calinog town, Iloilo province, has triggered controversy over its P5.8-million estimated cost.

But the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) defended the budget for the drones, saying this was based on prevailing prices.

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Agency officials, however, refused to disclose the specifications of the drones, saying these are in bid documents.

The drones that the NIA plans to purchase should be capable of software-controlled flights mainly to help in the survey of the construction site for the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II (JRMP II) in Calinog.

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The JRMP II is the second of a two-stage project aimed at tapping the Jalaur River, one of the major rivers in Panay, for power generation and irrigation.

It involves the construction of three dams, a 6.6-megawatt hydro power plant and an 81-kilometer-long canal.

The NIA held a bidding on April 20 for the purchase of drones.

Two firms–Rainbowgeo Scientific Corp. and Cr8 Engineering Worx and Enterprises–submitted bids.

Cr8 Engineering Worx and Enterprises submitted the lower bid but failed in the post-qualification stage, prompting the bids and awards committee to declare a failure of bidding.

When pressed by reporters on how the estimated cost for the two drones was reached, Jonel Borres, manager of the JRMP II engineering division, said the cost was based on prices from four suppliers.

Borres did not provide the name of the suppliers and the prices as the drone project would be rebid.

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The cost, he said, could range from P4 million to P7 million, which includes expenses for training of drone operators and the price of the software that the drones would use.

Corsiga said the drones could take the place, or complement the work, of human surveyors.

Surveyors, he said, could cover only four hectares a day while drones could cover larger areas with more precise readings and data.

The NIA and other proponents of the project have said that JRMP II will generate at least 17,000 jobs during the construction stage and address Iloilo’s potable water supply problems.

But some indigenous people’s groups, including those living in communities that would be submerged, are opposing the project.

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TAGS: drones, Iloilo, NIA, Rainbowgeo Scientific Corp., Rainbowgeo Scientific Corp. and Cr8 Engineering Worx and Enterprises, Regions, surveyor
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