Newly restored National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Regional Irrigation Manager (RIM) of region Vll, Modesto Membreve categorically denied allegations of corruption hurled by Engr. Petronilo Sarigumba.
Membreve, barely warming his seat as RIM was taken aback after Sarigumba, as president of the Association of Bohol’s Construction Companies, Inc. called on Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairperson Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala “to prevent a catastrophic mistake in the appointment of Modesto Membreve as the Regional Manager of Region Vll of National Irrigation Administration”.
The CSC ordered the NIA to “immediately restore Membreve to his official station at the NIA Regional Office No. Vll, Tagbilaran City, Bohol” after the CSC in Decision no. 160235 promulgated on January 29, 2016 found the reassignment of Membreve to the NIA Administrator’s office “improper on the ground that it amounts to constructive dismissal”.
“I was stunned by Sarigumba’s baseless, malicious and sweeping accusations that I demanded 10% kickback from all NIA contractors and exerted pressure to the Bids and Awards Committee to award contracts to my favored contractors”.
“His letter complaint to the CSC has nothing to do with the nature of my appeal to be restored to my original position as RIM of region VII in Tagbilaran City. I consider this as a deliberate plan by Sarigumba to Â besmirched my 39 years of service with the NIA”, said Membreve.
According to Membreve, the 10% kickback as alleged by Sarigumba is Â actually the subject of an ongoing civil case for collection filed by Membreve in behalf of NIA against Sarigumba representing MD Biliran Construction in Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 39, Quezon City in the amount of P246,973.10
Membreve explained to the Chronicle that the alleged “10% kickback” is the 10% equity farmers are mandated to pay the NIA for the construction of irrigation facilities.
To bag the contract, Sarigumba wangled a deal with the NIA that instead of the farmers paying the 10% equity, he (Sarigumba) will advance the amount of P246,973.10 representing the 10% farmer’s share to the NIA as provided in a contract for that purpose.
But Sarigumba renege on the terms of the contract after it was awarded in his favor, according to Membreve.
The civil case involves the construction of irrigation dikes for the Guinsularan Community Irrigation System in Guinsularan, Duero.
Expressing dismay over Sarigumba’s wild indictments against his person, Membreve said “Being in public service I am always open to complaints. Running the affairs of an agency responsible for irrigation and management to improve the farmers quality of life is a huge responsibility, therefore, I will not take these irresponsible accusations of wrongdoing sitting down”.
The CSC decision mainly focused on Membreve’s appeal over his reassignment to the Office of the NIA Administrator on July 28, 2014 and did not touch on the allegations of Sarigumba as mentioned in his letter-complaint to the CSC on May 26, 2016.
The appeal of Membreve before the CSC stemmed from his reassignment to the NIA Administrator’s Office and directing him to perform duties which is inconsistent with his duties as RIM.
TIT FOR TAT
Membreve lashed back at Sarigumba saying “Three orders of contract termination have been issued by then RIM Mario Sande against Sarigumba for incurring negative slippages for his sloppy work despite the release of mobilization expenses for the project”.
According to documents furnished to the Chronicle, the order of termination was issued for irrigation system projects in Capayas and Bayongan amounting to P14 million and a canalization project in Basak-Dako, Bilar worth P4.7 million.
“Sarigumba caused damage to the farmers because of his unfinished projects while collecting the 15% mobilization costs of the contract amount”, according to Membreve.
Membreve who hails from Barangay Catigbi-an, Buenavista, Bohol was the first RIM of the newly created NIA Regional Office 7 in Tagbilaran City after his successful supervision of the Bayongan Dam in San Miguel.
He was designated NIA Acting Deputy Administrator for Engineering and Operations by Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on September 25, 2013 but was revoked a year later with his subsequent transfer to the NIA Administrator’s office.Â (Chito M. Visarra)