The Bayan Muna party-list on Tuesday warned that the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project was worse that concession agreements of Maynilad and Manila Water with the government—deals that the Duterte government has called onerous.
Bayan Muna representatives issued the statement in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's warning to courts against issuing temporary restraining orders that would delay the construction of the Wawa and Kaliwa dams.
Representative Carlos Zarate said Duterte's statement trampled on the constitutional provision on separation of powers.
He added that the loan agreement for the Kaliwa Dam project and its twin deal Chico River Pump Irrigation Project highly favored China.
"Worse, these loans may just be two of the many secret loan agreements between the Philippines and China which could run in the billions," Zarate said.
Zarate pointed out that under the contract, any dispute or default in payments should be decided by a tribunal in China using Chinese laws.
“The agreement first imposes an admission on the part of the Philippines that ‘the Agreement does not violate any Philippine law or rules’, practically preempting our country’s right to challenge the legality or constitutionality of the agreement,” Zarate said.
“Worse, it provides that any dispute such as a delay or default in payment shall be resolved by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission and shall be governed by the laws of China. It even imposes that the venue shall be in Beijing,” he added.
The loan deal also prohibited the Philippines from doing any act which, for China, will materially affect how the former will perform its obligations. This, Zarate said, could be any act since it is only based on China's interpretation.
"Madali tayong kasuhan ng China sa tribunal nila, habang tayo hindi maaring i-question ang agreement sa sarili nating korte, tulad ng ginawa ng Maynilad at Manila Water sa Singapore Tribunal. In fact, China imposed a confidentiality clause that renders us unaware that we are being sold to China," he said.
"Why proceed when badges of irregularities attended the project?" he added.
For her part, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat said pushing through with the Kaliwa Dam project is considered the highest injustment and discrimination to members of indigenous communities like herself, as well as disrespect for their right to self-determination.
"Matagal nang inalagaan ng mga kapatid na Dumagat at Remontado ang Kaliwa river,at nanatiling malinis at malaya itong umaagos patungo sa iba't ibang komunidad na nangangailangan ng tubig," she said.
"Hindi rason na itayo ang Kaliwa dam para sa dagdag na pangangailangan ng tubig sa Metro Manila at ilipat ang mga katutubo sa ibang lugar, kahit walang malinaw kabuhayan nila, matayo lang ang proyektong pinondohan ng inutang sa China, habang libo-libong mamamayang katutubo at mga magsasaka ang maepektuhan," she added.
Cullamat pointed out that there are other ways to supply Metro Manila with water like utilizing Wawa Dam and Laguna Lake as sources.
"Mukhang may mga kikita kasi sa deal na ito pero mamamayan na naman ang tatamaan," she added. —NB, GMA News