Blaming typhoon for NIA failure unacceptable — Palace

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - This failure can’t be blamed on the weather.

Malacañang yesterday said that blaming typhoons for the failure of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to meet its targets is not acceptable, especially if the weather disturbance came at the end of the year.      

“There’s a target for the entire year. An explanation that the typhoon occurred in December which caused the decrease in their accomplishment is not acceptable because it happened only in one month – December,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.      

The Palace official said it was a flimsy excuse, noting that for the rest of the year, or 11 months’ time, substantial work should have been done in areas where projects are located.  Lacierda defended President Aquino for admonishing NIA officials during the agency’s 50th anniversary celebration on Tuesday. The President scolded the officials for failing to meet targets.   

Lacierda said they are trying to verify the explanation made by NIA administrator Antonio Nangel blaming Typhoon Pablo that hit Mindanao in December 2012 for NIA’s failure to meet targets.     

“The President has ordered us to verify the explanation of NIA administrator Nangel who reportedly said that the whole Mindanao was affected by Typhoon Pablo,” he said, noting that the typhoon only hit the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. Nangel and other NIA officials have been ordered to explain the decrease in the agency’s accomplishment report since 2001 that has affected the country’s agricultural productivity and targets for rice self-sufficiency.        

Meanwhile, NIA officials and employees criticized Aquino for being a KJ (killjoy) and for spoiling the party.     

They said Aquino’s attacks on Nangel and on the agency’s supposed failure to meet targets were uncalled for.

They said the President ignored the agency’s attainment of financial viability for the first time in 50 years.

The President, in his speech, expressed dismay with the NIA leadership, noting that the agency was only able to irrigate 52,000 hectares of farmlands out of its 81,170-hectare target in 2012, or a 65 percent accomplishment rate.

He said from 2001 to 2009, NIA failed to meet its yearly irrigation targets, getting as far as only 66 percent.

He said in 2011, when he was already president, NIA was able to irrigate 32,830 out of its target area of 37,659 hectares or a high of 87 percent.        

Aquino said he would not accept lame excuses. 

He expressed disappointment over the agency’s failure to implement the Balog-Balog Irrigation Project (BIP) in his home province in Tarlac. 

He said the project was conceptualized as early as the term of his late mother, former President Cory Aquino, but this has not started or broken ground until now. 

“We are already three years in office yet nothing has happened. Is this worth being funded? If so, let’s do it. If not, let’s stop it altogether,” he said.   

He said had the BIP been implemented, the harvest cycle in Tarlac would have been 7.5 a year.  “Administrator Nangel, help me to implement it. If you want to do it, nothing is impossible. If you don’t want to, it’s impossible,” Aquino said.

Prior to Aquino’s speech, the atmosphere inside the venue was festive as Nangel rattled off the agency’s accomplishments under his watch. 

Nangel said the irrigation development in the country rose from 49 percent in 2009 to 56 percent in 2012 owing to the funding support from the Aquino administration.

He said NIA was able to restore idle farms, noting it only needs to irrigate 12,000 hectares to achieve the Rice Self-Sufficiency Program by the end of this year. 

The NIA chief said the agency is focused not only on irrigation development but also on the construction of mini-hydro power plants along irrigation canals, ecotourism in reservoirs, and potable water supply. 

NIA officials who asked not to be named said the officials and personnel said Aquino appeared to have engaged in fault-finding. 

A former NIA administrator said the timing of the dressing down was inappropriate. 

“It was supposed to be a time of jubilation, of celebration because it’s the NIA’s 50th year. Everybody was full of energy then suddenly he would spoil the whole party with his sermon,” the former official said.  

He said with P-Noy, “expect the unexpected.” 

Employees said they were expecting the President to give them an anniversary bonus.                  

“Instead, what we got was anniversary sermon. He is a true-blue KJ (killjoy),” one worker said.– With Manny Galvez










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