Kalinga groups: Probe ‘corruption’ in multi-million Chico River project

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2016

By Juan Dammay

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Peasants, religious and cause-oriented groups here urged the government to investigate “corruption” in rehabilitation of Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) by the National Irrigation Administration saying they lost around P10 billion due to two missed cropping seasons due to project’s “anomalous implementation.” 
They demanded compensation for “gross negligence” of the contractor for using substandard materials.  
According to Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga and Kalinga Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA), peasants along the Tabuk-Pinukpuk Chico River, the delayed rehabilitation of UCRIS coupled with the El Nino phenomenon led to suffering of farmers.
 The Cordillera Peoples Alliance-Kalinga and TMK, in a statement, aired support to call of farmers for compensation, investigation on the issue of corruption during the rehabilitation of UCRIS and evaluation of the project on alleged use of substandard materials.
 In 2013, the World Bank funded the 10-million dollar for the rehabilitation of the UCRIS through a government loan under the Participatory Irrigation Development Project.
This project was awarded to the Markbilt Construction/RD Policarpio and Co. Inc. with NIA to oversee the implementation of the project.
The rehabilitation project major components were the repair and improvement of the Chico diversion dam; rehabilitation of four  assemblies of Chico dam electro-mechanical appurtenances, sluice gates and radial intake gates and lifting mechanism main diversion canal; rehab and improvement of the 21-kilometer main diversion dam canal.
 In the implementation of the project from September 2013 to 2015, peasants along with several groups and organizations such as the Tabuk - Pinukpuk Farmers Irrigators’ Association (UCRIS-TPFIA) and KARSA raised their concerns regarding the slow progress of work of the project.
TMK noted the monitoring team sent by the World Bank proved that the implementation incurred massive slippage reached up to 60 percent. “This is clear violation to R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act which states that 15 percent negative slippage is ground for termination of contract,” the CPA said.
 The problem of slippage was reportedly further aggravated and exposed when Typhoon Ineng hit Kalinga in August 2015.
The TMK said substandard implementation and the incapability of the contractor to anticipate and mitigate an impact of a typhoon worsened the damaged irrigation.
In the first half of 2016, El Niño phenomenon again aggravated the suffering of the peasants in Kalinga.
NIA extended a subsidy to combat El Nino by providing at least 14 units of water pump package but again marred with alleged anomalous procurement of the said water pump units.
 Accordingly, the rehabilitation of UCRIS aimed to increase the water volume and restore an area of at least 1,251 hectares within the 6,801 service area covered by the system in Tabuk and Pinukpuk but up to the present, the farmers are still suffering from insufficient water supply.

 CPA-Kalinga and TMK aired support for immediate compensation of farmers who missed two cropping seasons and investigation on the issues of corruption, negligence and substandard materials used on the project.  Lastly, TMK urges all sectors to stand and speak for the aspirations and concerns of the peasants for food sovereignty. 


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