Leftist solons seek to stop P12.2B Kaliwa Dam project

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    A LEFT-leaning lawmaker yesterday urged the government to suspend negotiations for the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project until supposed onerous provisions included in the deal which are allegedly “clearly detrimental to Filipinos” are corrected.

    Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said the P12.20 billion loan agreement that it forged with China for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam and the Chico River Pump irrigation violates the Constitution and will put taxpayers at the losing end.

    The project will run from Quezon to Tanay, Rizal.

    Zarate enumerated the alleged illegal provisions in the contract, among them, Article 5.7 stating that the “Philippines or any of its assets, unless prohibited by the laws and public policies, are not entitled to any right of immunity on the grounds of sovereign or any legal process; Article 8.1, which states that the “Philippines irrevocably waives any immunity on grounds of sovereignty; Article 8.4, “agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of China; Article 8.5 which stipulates that the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center will be the arbiter in case of a dispute; and Article 8.9, which states that the terms, conditions and standard fees of the loan agreement are confidential.

    “These loans may just be two of the many secret loan agreements between the Philippines and China which could run in the billions. Why proceed when badges of irregularities attended the project?” Zarate said in a statement.

    Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, also of Bayan Muna party-list, said the construction of the Kaliwa Dam “is a clear discrimination against indigenous people.”

    Cullamat said most families who will be displaced by the undertaking are members of the Dumagat tribe which the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) should be protecting and defending.

    The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) website shows that the acquisition of land where the Tunnel Outlet Portal will pass through is ongoing and that it is coordinating with the LGUs of Infanta, Real, General Nakar, Quezon Province, Tanay, Morong, Baras, Rizal Province and DENR.

    Bayan Muna party-list chairman Neri Colmenares also slammed the confidentiality clause of the Kaliwa Dam project, saying access to the loan agreement will be restricted due to its confidentiality clause.

    Colmenares pointed to a Commission on Audit (COA) report revealing that the bidding for the Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded project was done “in the guise of being a competitive procurement process.”

    COA cited the alleged intentional non-compliance to qualification requirements of two of the three Chinese contractors that joined the bidding.

    “As a result, only the China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited (CEEC) qualified which is questionable considering that the two bidders were disqualified in the 1st and 2nd stages of the procurement process due to seemingly intentional purpose of the bidders not to comply with the TWG requirements,” state auditors said in their Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) last June 10.

    The AOM was addressed to then MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco and deputy administrator for Engineering and Technical Operations Leonor Cleofas and signed by OIC Audit team Leader Rency Meryl P. Marquez and OIC Supervising Auditor Ma. Nancy J. Uy.

    “In summary, it can be deduced that the two bidders/contractors were included merely to comply with the ‘at least three bidders requirement’ as stated under the Procurement law,” the report said.

    At the same time, Zarate opposed the MWSS claim that the construction of the Kaliwa Dam will help prevent another water crisis and will augment Angat Dam’s lack of capacity which is the primary water source of Metro Manila.

    Zarate said the water crisis can be solved without resorting to building a dam which, aside from being near a fault line, “will displace indigenous people and plunge the country into another debt considering that the loan from China has a two percent interest rate.”