7 top NIA officials facing graft probe
By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- At least seven officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) are on the “hot seat” as they face investigation due to alleged project irregularities in their respective areas. Ricardo Visaya, NIA administrator, in an interview on Sunday said the project irregularities range from substandard to unfinished projects that have caused delays in NIA’s project timetable. He said the project delays were so disadvantageous to the government in terms of time frame to deliver services and losses to the government coffers. “We have to take action on this because this was the marching order I received from Pres. Duterte when I took over NIA,” Visaya said. Visaya said his priority when he assumes office was to initiate anti-corruption program in line with Duterte’s order to cleanse the agency of corrupt officials. “The cleansing process would push through from top to bottom,” the NIA chief stressed. However, he begs off to give names in the meantime, saying that the charges against the erring officials are still being investigated by the agency and the Office of the Ombudsman. When asked what positions are these officials holding and where they are assigned, Visaya said some are regional and provincial managers, and construction engineers with work assignments in Central Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao regions. Visaya was expected to lead national and local officials last Monday in the groundbreaking ceremony for the P381M Ibingan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (SRIP) in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon. The irrigation dam project is a 27.20-meter high zone earth-filled dam with a total storage of 0.6591 million cubic meters (MCM) of irrigation water. The dam covers 489 hectares of irrigable land, benefitting 584 farmers in 15 barangays.