NIA Administrator joins stakeholders’ forum in Palawan

“Coordinate, cooperate and collaborate so that the projects of NIA will be properly implemented.”

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Gen Ricardo R Visaya (Ret) gives a short message during the NIA Stakeholders Forum held last February 20, 2018 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Joining the activity were Palawan 3rd District Representative Hon. Gil Acosta, Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines Col Robert Velasco, PNP Provincial Director PSSUPT Gabriel Lopez, Deputy Administrator for Administrative and Finance Gen Romeo G Gan (Ret), chiefs and representatives from the national and local government agencies, NIA employees headed by regional manager William Ragodon and division manager Conrado Cardenas Jr., and presidents of Irrigators Association (IA).

In his message, Administrator Visaya emphasized that the activity aims to gather support from all stakeholders to ensure faster and better implementation of various irrigation projects of NIA through signing of the covenant and is in connection with President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. Furthermore, he shared that more projects are on the pipeline including eight (8) foreign-funded projects to be implemented in the next 3-5 years with project allocation of ₱100 billion.

“Gusto naming maging transparent sa inyong lahat. We would like you to know what we have done, what we are doing and what we will do.” said Administrator Visaya. With that, he stated that NIA has an approved CY 2018 budget of ₱41 billion. Out of which ₱1.6 billion will be for NIA MIMAROPA. From this budget, ₱104 million is allotted to Palawan and will be allocated to develop part of the remaining 39, 565 hectares of farmland in Palawan. To date, NIA has developed 26,063 hectares out of Palawan’s potential irrigable area of 65,628 hectares.

The Administrator also stressed that irrigation service fee (ISF) is now free based on the newly-enacted law – Republic Act 10969 otherwise known as Free Irrigation Service Fee Act. Said law applies to farmers with landholdings of eight (8) hectares below and likewise, all unpaid ISF, loan, past due accounts, corresponding interests and penalties of these farmers will be condoned and written off from the books of NIA. While those with more than eight (8) hectares of landholdings like corporate farms, plantations drawing water for agricultural crop production, and fishponds and other purposes, natural or juridical, drawing water for non-agricultural purposes from NIS and CI, or using irrigation systems as drainage facilities shall continue to be subject to the payment of ISF.

Relative to this, Administrator Visaya reminded the IAs that as private and independent organizations and upon approval with the general assembly may collect dues from its members to support the operation and maintenance of the irrigation systems.

He further reiterated that causing delay in the implementation of government projects is a violation of the anti-graft law.

“We are serious in implementing the Build, Build, Build.” said Administrator Visaya in his message emphasizing that the government projects should be implemented efficiently and with quality.

Lastly, the stakeholders jointly signed the covenant for improved irrigation development in Palawan.

Photos by: Cris Delos Santos