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Bohol Irrigation Dam leader unafraid of media investigation
« on: August 13, 2007, 10:23:33 AM »
Written By KIT BAGAIPO
The Bohol Chronicle

Questioned cost over-runs of the Bohol Irrigation Project Stage-2 (BHIP-2) that has caught national attention recently do not bother the project's administrator.

BHIP-2 project manager Modesto Membreve said the probe made by an investigative news magazine of one of the giant television stations "has not proven that there are indeed anomalies invlolving the project."

Membreve is confident the expose has no bearing on the much-awaited resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the questions raised by the National Economic Development Authority-Investment Coordinating Committee (NEDA-ICC).

He said the irrigation project went through a meticulous process of review and an international competitive bidding.

It may be recalled that NEDA sought the DOJ's opinion regarding the legality of continuing the Bayongan irrigation project (BHIP-2) after it found cost over-runs amounting to over P1.2 billion which former Socio-economic planning Sec. Romulo Neri called as excessive.

Membreve is optimistic that the DOJ would favor the completion of the irrigation project.

In fact, the project manager said, the DOJ's opinion would just be "ministerial and a formality" as the NEDA technical board has already given clearance for the BHIP-2 completion to proceed.

Presently, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has not paid some P700-million to BHIP-2 contractor Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Ltd. after NEDA questioned the cost over-run and blocked further fund releases to the project.

But, according to Membreve, they expect the fund to be released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) soon.

He said the P1.2 billion fund will meet the financial requirements to pay for the Hanjin contract and to complete the final stages of the project.

The P1.2-billion was approved by Congress and included on the 2007 General Appropriations Act.

Last week, Membreve announced that the BHIP-2 operations may shutdown if funds are not released soon by the DBM.

In fact, BHIP-2 employees were already laid-off starting last June due to its depleted funds for salaries.

Plantilla position were likewise affected by the mass lay-offs undertaken by the BHIP-2 administrators.

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Bohol Irrigation Dam May Be Shut Down?

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