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Kaliwa dam project questioned at SC

Human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares on Friday said that with the release of the official contracts, he would  file a petition in the Supreme Court to question the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project which he claimed was laden with terms detrimental to the Filipino people.

The Bayan Muna chair and Makabayan senatorial bet said published documents of the loan agreement for the construction of the dam project follow the same pattern of “onerous” provisions similar to the Chico River project, another China-funded venture.

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“The conditions have been dictated by China, from the interest rates, choice of contractor and workers, an affirmation by the (Department of Justice) secretary on the legality of the loan, confidentiality of the terms of the agreement, and in case of default, China can take over a property of the Philippines in exchange,” he said.

‘Detrimental to country’

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“The (Department of Finance) was forced to release the documents after our exposé that the loan agreement for the Chico River project was detrimental to the country, but a perusal of the agreement for the Kaliwa Dam only proves what we have been pointing out all along,” he said.

According to the website of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the proposed P18.7-billion New Centennial Water Source Project is meant “to provide water security, reliability and additional supply for Metro Manila.”

The loan agreement was supposedly signed during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2018.

But according to Colmenares, the 25-page “preferential buyer’s credit loan agreement” between MWSS and the Export-Import Bank of China is “as onerous” as the loan contract for the P3.2-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in Kalinga province.

Under the Kaliwa Dam loan agreement, the government supposedly preselected the designated contractor for the dam project—China Energy Engineering Corp., according to Colmenares.

Constitutional violation

“This is a violation of our procurement laws, as well as violation of the Constitution that mandates a preference for Filipino contractors and workers who are equally if not more than qualified,” the former lawmaker said.

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The Philippine government also “surrendered” the choice of applicable law and the venue for disputes in favor of China, Colmenares said.

“We dare President Duterte to order the immediate release of all the China loan documents to the public. If not, then they are indeed hiding something and they are fooling the Filipino people,” Colmenares said.

But Malacañang said it was open to publicly disclosing the documents related to Kaliwa Dam project as long as it was not covered by any restrictions in the Freedom of Information (FOI) rules.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the Duterte administration was committed to promoting transparency in government as long as FOI rules allow the release of the documents.

FOI invoked

“This administration early on has made it clear that it will be transparent,” Medialdea said in a text message to reporters.

Medialdea made the remarks after lawyer and opposition senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, representing some groups, sent letters to Medialdea and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to request official documents related to the project.

Diokno invoked the FOI, saying he wants to check if there are “onerous” provisions in the China-funded proposal.

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TAGS: Chinese, Colmenares, documents, FOI, Kaliwa dam, Loan, Locsin, Makabayan, Medialdea, questioned, SC, Supreme Court
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