The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Palawan Irrigation Management Office has recorded an 80 percent accomplishment of irrigation projects as of November 2020 despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Division manager Engr. Conrado Cardenas Jr. said they are aiming to reach at least 85 percent of accomplishment before the year ends and completion within the first quarter of 2021.

He added that movement restrictions due to pandemics have affected the progress of their project constructions, considering the anticipated lockdown & mandated health protocols to follow. However, he said that despite the epidemic, Palawan IMO has rated a satisfactory level in the physical accomplishment this year.

“Malaki ang epekto ng pandemya, siyempre maraming protocols every LGU, every place may sinusunod tayo, nirirespeto natin iyan. Likewise in Balabac, hindi kami makapunta, El Nido na isang tourist destination, Busuanga and Coron, hindi kami makapunta sa lugar na ‘yon,” he said.

NIA has allotted a budget of P247 million for 23 irrigation projects in 2020, wherein some from northern projects including Coron & Busuanga have also remained under construction and few projects from south is nearly completed.

“Yong mga tao namin, kapag pupunta sa ibang place like Coron at Busuanga meron din mga sinusunod na protocol for safety pero we assured that are doing our best to cope with farmers need. Luckily, ngayon ay ongoing na sila. Hopefully, ay matapos namin ‘yon ng first quarter ng 2021,” he added.

“Sa 2020, ang Marangas halos completed na ‘yon in Bataraza. Ang Isumbo natin halos 90 percent na siya, sini-secure lang namin ‘yong lugar, nilalagyan ng perimeter fence para hindi magkaroon ng vandalism o manakaw ang aming unit. By first quarter o early next year ay iti-test na namin,” he said.

The Isumbo Pump Irrigation Project (PIP) is the first solar power pump project of NIA Palawan in the province with a P4.5 million budget. NIA decided to start the solar power pump project as a lesser maintenance irrigation project and run by renewable energy in Isumbo, Española.

Cardenas said that they want the projects to be operational during summer to help farmers produce agricultural products and secure food sufficient supply.

“Lagi kaming may target na tuwing dry season ay operational siya, nagagamit ng farmers kasi alam natin ngayon na sa panahon ng pandemic, kailangan natin ng food security. Para ma-mitigate, maibsan ‘yong konting problema,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ibato-Iraan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (SRIP) in Aborlan has a positive progress in the physical accomplishment, continuous monthly coordination is being done, he added.

The Ibato-Iraan SRIP has an allocation of P780-million of which P454 million was awarded to its previous contractor, Oscar R. Sarmiento Construction Inc. (ORSCI) in 2014. The new project contractor, Green Asia Construction and Development Corporation, continued the remaining works in the Ibato-Iraan SRIP with an amount of P322, 832,438.17.

It was resumed on January 31 and expected to be completed in 2022.

“On progress na siya, ang ginagawa na lang ngayon ay ‘yong spillway area, rock excavation, doon sa dam line meron din sila na backfilling for trench. By December ay nasa seven percent, continuation na lang din ‘yon noong nakaraan,” he said.

Once the Ibato-Iraan SRIP completed, it will be considered the biggest irrigation project in the province, benefiting 425 farmer-beneficiaries in the villages of Sagpangan, Iraan, and Isaub.