Solons question NIA chief’s suspension

‘Complainant’ denounces inclusion in smear job versus Antiporda

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A PARTYLIST representative in Congress and a lady solon have assailed the swift suspension by the Ombudsman of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) administrator, Benny Antiporda, saying the suspension is not only questionable but also puts to risk the country’s energy supply requirement and irrigation needs.

“Nakakabahala na ang isang magaling na tao ng gobyerno ay sirain ng Ombudsman dahil lang sa kanyang management style na tama lang naman na gawin dahil maraming anomalya sa NIA,” said Philippine Rural Electric Cooperative Association (Philreca) representative, Presley C. De Jesus.

Iloilo’s first lady solon, Rep. Julienne ‘Jamjam’ Baronda, shown with Sen. Imee Marcos. Baronda brands the timing of Antiporda’s suspension as “suspicious” as it came while Pres. Bongbong Marcos Jr., who appointed Antiporda, was busy preparing for the APEC meeting in Thailand (photo from Baronda’s FB page).

The solon was referring to the complaint filed against Antiporda by two former NIA officials for alleged grave misconduct, harassment, oppression and ignorance of the law.

In a move that raised a lot of eyebrows, Ombudsman  which was immediately acted upon by the OMB with a 6-months preventive suspension without pay of Antiporda last November 15, 2022. Up to now, however, Antiporda, who immediately complied with the OMB order, is yet to receive a formal copy of the complaint against him.

On the other hand, the OMB is yet to act on the complaint for graft and corruption filed by Antiporda against former NIA Legal Department head, Atty. Lloyd Allain Cudal and former NIA Board secretary, Michelle Gonzales Raymundo last September and October, respectively.

Iloilo Rep. Julienne ‘Jamjam’ Baronda, the first lady solon of Iloilo for her part, also voiced her concern over the OMB’s action.

Baronda said she found it questionable that the OMB immediately suspended Antiporda but failed to take action on the complaints he has filed against Cudal and Raymundo.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires suspended Antiporda last November 15, 2022 in a manner that raised suspicion. Martires did not even showed decency when he issued the suspension without providing Antiporda a copy of the complaint against him up to now (ctto).

The timing of Antiporda’s suspension, she added, is also “suspicious” as it came right after Congress approved the proposed budget of the OMB and while Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who appointed Antiporda, is busy preparing for the APEC meeting in Thailand.

The other purported complainant, the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP), had already denounced their inclusion as complainant against Antiporda, stressing they even issued a statement of support on his  leadership only last September, a support that “still stands and remains unchanged,” said NIAEASP president, Eduardo Yu, in a statement last November 16, 2022.

De Jesus also chided the OMB for using as basis, the allegation by Raymundo and Cudal that Antiporda’s proposal to include the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program to hasten the irrigation for an additional 1 million hectares of the country’s farmlands while boosting energy supply as not suitable for NIA and is meant to “deceive” President Marcos Jr.

A copy of the denial letter of NAIEASP for its inclusion in the smear job against the NIA chief.

De Jesus said that as the leading voice in Congress for the country’s electric cooperatives, tapping the PPP as proposed by Antiporda would also help address the power supply needs in the rural areas.

“Rural electrification is my advocacy. Kapag nakapagtayo ng maraming (water) dams, marami rin ang maitatayong hydro electric power at solar power plants.

“At dahil sa PPP proposal ni Antiporda, siguradong dadami ang proyekto na makakatuulong din sa electricity (supply) problem sa rural areas,” De Jesus pointed out.

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