ABUCAY, Bataan – Top officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) headed by NIA Administrator, Retired General Ralph A. Villanueva, its regional, provincial and municipal officers, held the first ever stakeholders Forum on Irrigation Development together with all the farmers/irrigators association in Bataan. Mayor Liberato Santiago of this town welcomed them, as the host municipality.
NIA Regional Director, Josephine B. Salazar in her overview said that NIA officials would like to hear firsthand information from the farmers themselves, their priority needs on irrigation, they would like to bring the government down to the people. This is also the proper venue, according to Ms. Salazar, to inform the farmers on the present status of irrigation development in the province as compared to other provinces in Central Luzon, as well as the on-going projects and future projects of NIA in Bataan.
Likewise, IMO Manager Prudencio B. Santos for Pampanga and Bataan said that Bataan has a small potential irrigable area of only 7% as compared to Tarlac with 30% out of the 287, 246 hectares of irrigable areas, one reason is that, Bataan is now becoming an industrial province, yet he clarified that all irrigation projects will still be prioritized such as the Tangilad dam, which supplies irrigation waters to the 6 municipalities of the 1st district, namely Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay and Morong; and so with other dams and irrigation canals all over the province.
Congressman Joet Garcia, in his message, encouraged all the farmers to participate in different forum to identify their priority needs, plan in advance and submit their various requests ahead of time, especially on the 1st month of the year (January) and will be deliberated by August to be included in the next year’s budget.
Congresswoman Geraldine Roman on the other hand, appealed to all the NIA officials to help the farmers on problems concerning the legitimacy/ownership of their lands.
The highlight of the event was the signing of the Stakeholders Covenant in support for a faster and better implementation of irrigation projects.
In closing, Gen. Villanueva said that the stakeholders forum is very timely to address the present condition of the irrigation development in the province towards an efficient irrigation management system, and that the forum will be the proper venue to gather all the information, consultation and suggestions which will serve as their guide in the implementation of the irrigation projects that will be the key to reach the national goal of a rice sufficient country.