Press Release
November 4, 2020

De Lima calls for Senate investigation into NIA's underperformance and reported violation of procurement laws

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate resolution seeking to determine the root causes of the National Irrigation Administration's (NIA) seeming chronic underperformance in the implementation of its irrigation programs, and the controversies hounding its procurement processes.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 556 calling for an inquiry on the Commission on Audit (COA) report stating that nearly ₱20 billion worth of contracts awarded by the NIA had violated procurement laws.

"Food crops require a steady and reliable supply of water to grow, thus emphasizing the NIA's crucial and indispensable role in the government bureaucracy to ensure food production and maintain food security for millions of Filipinos," she said.

"NIA is duty-bound to comply with procurement laws to ensure that there will be no wastage of public funds, and to obviate any delay in the delivery of the much-needed infrastructure, projects and services on the ground," she added.

A recently released audit performed by the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the NIA for violating procurement laws when it awarded at least 339 contracts to "ineligible contractors" totaling ₱19.986 billion in 2019.

COA's report stated that these "ineligible contractors" committed violations because they failed to provide documentary requirements, violated procurement timelines, went through inadequate procedures in the post-qualification evaluation of winning bidders, or did not comply with "issuance of bid and performance security before signing of the contract."

The report also revealed that some contracts were "awarded without first securing authorities/permits to enter or proofs of acquisition of Right of Way," which is against the law.

In filing SR No. 556, De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, stressed that this is not the first time that the NIA had been called out by the COA.

"Just last year, the NIA had been flagged over the delays in its implementation of irrigation projects, a majority of which should have been completed years ago," De Lima recalled. "In 2018, the COA flagged delays in the NIA's implementation of projects worth almost ₱12 billion."

De Lima said NIA should improve its transparency efficiency in terms of implementing its irrigation programs and projects for the benefit of Filipino farmers nationwide, as well as ensure that its bidding process is in accordance with the law.

"Misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance in public service are inimical to the nation's interest and must never be countenanced," she said.

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