THE P12.2 billion Kaliwa Dam project is seen to be one of Beijing’s “great achievements” in the country under the leadership of President Duterte.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila yesterday said that “the project is one of the great achievements in helping the Philippines with more livelihood projects through China-Philippines mutually beneficial infrastructure cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Build, Build, Build plan.”
“It is of great significance to meet the long-term water demand and improve the basic quality of the life of the local people,” it added as it underscored the role it will play in alleviating water shortage in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.
President Duterte had been pushing for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam, saying it is the last resort to resolve the water shortage in the metropolis.
The President’s insistence comes amid concerns raised by environmentalists and local communities on the negative effects of the project.
If the infrastructure undertaking pushes through, an estimated 420 families will be affected in the Quezon part of the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Also, members of the Dumagat-Remontado tribe in Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal have warned that it will cause the Tinipak river to overflow and inundate their community.
The dam project will be funded under a loan agreement forged by the Duterte government with the Export-Import Bank of China, which was supposedly reached by Beijing and Manila based on consultations on equal and voluntary basis.
“The terms and conditions of the agreement are general and standardized requirements in accordance with both international practice and Philippine laws, as suggested by the results of reviews conducted by the Department of Finance, Department of Justice and other relevant government sectors of the Philippines before the agreement was signed,” the embassy said.
The embassy also allayed concerns on the project’s effects on the environment and local communities, citing Duterte’s earlier order to government agencies to “critically evaluate the project’s economic practicality and compliance of environmental protection rules and bidding procedures to ensure the project is well qualified.”