Robredo questions shift in funding mechanism for China-funded dam

By CNN Philippines Staff

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday questioned the shift in the funding mechanism for a Quezon dam aimed to increase Metro Manila’s water supply, and its links to China.

During her regular Sunday radio show, Robredo raised concern over the change of Kaliwa Dam’s funding from a public-private partnership (PPP) to an official development assistance (ODA) grant from China.

The Vice President said under the PPP, the Philippines would not be paying anything.

Ang 85 percent utang natin sa China, 15 percent tayo iyong gagastos. So, hindi ko talaga alam … kung bakit mas gugustuhin nating umutang kaysa wala tayong gagastusin,” she was quoted saying in “BISErbisyong Leni.”

[Translation: The 85 percent is a loan from China. We will shoulder 15 percent. So I don’t understand … why we would opt to borrow money than not spend anything.]

Robredo then said a 2014 offer from a Japanese firm to build, operate and transfer the dam was a PPP already in the pipeline, but the project was stalled since it was changed to an ODA.

She then added the Dumagat tribe, an ancestral community in the project, clamored against the Kaliwa Dam’s construction due to environmental and earthquake threats in the area.

“Nakita ko ‘to sa mga petisyon pa dati na parang iko-construct ito sa may fault line, na natatakot iyong mga tao na hindi lang iyong mawawalan ng lugar, pero iyong danger kapag lumindol,” she said.

[Translation:I saw in the petitions that the dam will be constructed on a fault line, and the people are not just scared they would lose their homes, but also of the danger associated with quakes.]

Robredo said concerned authorities must look into why they think constructing the dam will solve the water problem in the metro.

Una, bakit ang tingin nila iyon iyong pinaka-solution. Pangalawa, kung iyon iyong solution, bakit pinipilit ng ODA sa China,” she said.

[Translation: First, they should look why this is the solution. Second, if this is the solution, why are they forcing the ODA from China.]

According to the Public-Private Partnership Center, the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee confirmed the financing shift of the project from PPP to ODA on March 21.

Under the ODA grant from China signed in November 2018, China pledged to provide ₱12.2 billion or around 64 percent of the ₱18.7 billion project cost of the Kaliwa Dam.

The project involves the construction of a dam with a discharge capacity of 600 million liters per day and a 27.7-kilometer raw water conveyance tunnel with a design capacity of 2.4 million liters per day.

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