By Helen Castaño| 06:06 PM May 23, 2023
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) – Central Visayas’ plan to move the office from its original location in Tagbilaran City to Cebu City is facing a backlash from both supporters and opponents.
Board Member Jamie Aumentado Villamor opposed the relocation, calling it “unviable, impracticable and inreasonable.”
“Is the relocation of regional office viable, practicable and reasonable? What should we prioritize more? The convenience of a few officials or that of the majority of the farmer-beneficiaries and employees who manage and maintain irrigation systems,” said Villamor during her speech.
“Convergence with other government agencies as the primary reason for the relocation requires only the presence of the top management for a certain period, but the provision of services to the stakeholders through key personnel entails the day-to-day operation of NIA and transferring its location will be more costly for the stakeholders, beneficiaries and about 90% or more of the region office employees, ” she added.
NIA Region VII used to be part of Region VIII as its “mother region” until the year 2009 when the NIA Board of Directors, through Board Resolution No. 7567-09, approved the establishment of separate Regional Irrigation Office for NIA- Region 7. The move to create separate regional office was through the initiative and efforts of our Bohol leaders.
She said Bohol has the highest number of farmer-beneficiaries in region 7 at 33,399 both from NIS and Communal Irrigation System (CIS).
“We have more farmer-beneficiaries in Bohol than the 3 provinces of region 7 combined. In a letter addressed to this representation, the President of the Irrigators Associations disclosed that consultations were allegedly not conducted. Now, allow me to present the data to back up our position. late of the belief that data is the foundation of any efficient operation, as well as will aide us in deciding important matters,” she said.
Data shows that Bohol may be considered as the center of irrigation development in region 7 having the largest total arable area of 260,300 hectares, potential irrigable area of 44,076 hectares, existing service area of 28,388 hectares, operational area of 20,291 hectares and operational area for rice of 20,139 hectares.
Cebu only ranks third among the four (4) provinces in the region with total arable land area of 227,063 hectares, potential irrigable area of 12,515 hectares, existing service area of 10,925 hectares, operational area of 7, 958 hectares and operational area for rice of 1,661 hectares.
Bohol has 15,687 hectares remaining area for development while Cebu has 1,590 hectares remaining area for development.
Villamor said it could be more inconvenient and costly than having NIA employees travel to Cebu from Bohol in order to perform its duties.
“Pursuant to its mandate on irrigation development and management, NIA region 7 has already established the most strategic, convenient and efficient primary seat of business in Bohol where the majority of the farmer-beneficiaries are located and where most of the largest irrigation development are situated,” said Villamor.
She said the decision to procure a lot in Cebu City without first deciding whether or not relocation from Bohol to Cebu is feasible and viable for the government is not supportive of the implementation of the objectives and missions of NIA.
She emphasized that thorough study and review of applicable laws, analysis of data and most importantly, consultations with stakeholders, particularly the farmer-beneficiaries and employees are necessary in deciding of the proposal.