Peasants in Kalinga are demanding for compensation due to the gross negligence of the contractor of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). According to the Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga and Kalinga Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA), peasants along the Tabuk-Pinukpuk Chico line lost an estimated 10 billion pesos worth of agricultural crops from two missed rice cropping cycles.
The delayed rehabilitation of UCRIS coupled with the El Nino phenomenon led to the suffering of the farmers along the Tabuk-Pinukpuk Chico line. The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) – Kalinga and TMK support the call of farmers for compensation, investigation on the issue of corruption during the rehabilitation of UCRIS and the evaluation of the project on the alleged use of substandard materials.
In 2013, the World Bank funded the 10-million dollar for the rehabilitation of the UCRIS through a government loan under the Participatory Irrigation Development Project. This project was awarded to the Markbilt Construction/RD Policarpio and Co. Inc. with NIA to oversee the implementation of the project. The rehabilitation project major components were the repair and improvement of the Chico diversion dam; rehabilitation of 4 assemblies of Chico dam electro-mechanical appurtenances, sluice gates and radial intake gates and lifting mechanism main diversion canal; rehab and improvement of the 21-kilometer main diversion dam canal.
In the implementation of the project from September 2013 to 2015, peasants along with several groups and organizations such as the Tabuk – Pinukpuk Farmers Irrigators’ Association (UCRIS-TPFIA) and KARSA raised their concerns regarding the slow progress of work of the project. TMK even noted that even the monitoring team sent by the World Bank proved that the implementation incurred massive slippage reached up to 60 percent. This is clear violation to R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act which states that 15 percent negative slippage is ground for termination of contract.
The problem of slippage was further aggravated and exposed when Typhoon Ineng hit Kalinga in August 2015. TMK claims that the alleged substandard implementation and the incapability of the contractor to anticipate and mitigate an impact of a typhoon worsen the damaged on the irrigation. In the first half of 2016, El Niño phenomenon again aggravated the suffering of the peasants in Kalinga. NIA extended a subsidy to combat El Nino by providing at least 14 units of water pump package but again marred with alleged anomalous procurement of the said water pump units.
Accordingly, the rehabilitation of UCRIS aimed to increase the water volume and restore an area of at least 1,251 hectares within the 6,801 service area covered by the system in Tabuk and Pinukpuk but up to the present, the farmers are still suffering from insufficient water supply.
The CPA-Kalinga and TMK reiterates its support for the immediate compensation of farmers who missed their two cropping seasons and the investigation on the issues of corruption, negligence and substandard materials used on the project. Lastly, TMK urges all sectors to stand and speak for the aspirations and concerns of the peasants for food sovereignty.***
Chairperson, Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga