No PNoy to 'spoil' NIA's 51st anniversary

by Manny Galvez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 22 2014 11:55 AM | Updated as of Jun 22 2014 07:55 PM

MANILA - Employees of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Friday celebrated the agency’s 51st anniversary with great relief and joy, as there was no President Aquino around to “spoil” the event like last year.

The event, held at the NIA central office in Quezon City, was capped with an awarding ceremony for outstanding irrigators’ associations, operation and project managers.

The employees said they were glad that the President did not attend, as he might just deliver another “sermon” and ruin the celebration.

“It’s a good thing that he’s not here, because he’s a KJ (killjoy). He might just ruin our day,” one of the employees said as he recalled how Aquino criticized then NIA administrator Antonio Nangel in front of everybody in June last year.

The President’s speech dampened the workers’ spirits, who were expecting him to announce an anniversary bonus for them.

Aquino scolded Nangel over the agency’s supposed failure to meet its targets and expressed dismay with the NIA leadership as it was only able to irrigate 52,000 hectares out of 81,170-hectare targeted in 2012.

From 2001 to 2009, Aquino said NIA consistently failed to meet its yearly irrigation targets, getting only as far as 66 percent. He said in 2011, NIA was able to irrigate only 32,830 out of its target area of 37,659 hectares.

He also failed to hide his disappointment over the non-implementation of the second phase of the Balog-Balog Irrigation project in his hometown in Tarlac.

Employees said the presidential dressing-down was uncalled for and inappropriate, noting that Aquino ignored the agency’s corporate financial viability achievement, the first time in 50 years.

A week later, Aquino replaced Nangel with Claro Maranan.

In last Friday’s rites, Maranan reported that among the accomplishments of the agency was the improvement in its database and the bidding out of projects for 2012 and 2013.

He said as of March this year, NIA’s accomplishment was around 72.54 percent in the delivery of irrigation development projects.

The event themed “Tulong-tulong, Sama-sama sa Pagsulong ng NIA sa Pandaigdigang Pagbabago ng Klima,” kicked off on June 16 with a business forum, tiangge and fun games.

Maranan said NIA passed a two-day performance evaluation conducted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization led by Secretary Francis Pangilinan.