By Ben Rosario
Filipinos will be paying at least P44 billion in consultancy fees apparently to the Chinese government for a loan package for four infrastructure projects totaling P205 billion.
Bayan Muna chairman and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said the huge consultancy payments will also cover the Kaliwa dam project that the Department of Finance has been pushing as the solution to a water shortage problem that many suspect to be stage managed.
“Bakit kalaki naman ng consultancy fee na lampas 20% ng total loans? Dapat sabihin ng DOF kung China na naman ang mga consultants dito,” said Colmenares.
(Why is the consultancy fee too large that it surpasses 20 percent of the total loans? The DOF must tell us if China will be providing the consultants)
Colmenares has filed a freedom of information request to Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic Development Authority in order to secure copies of the loan deals that China will provide for the government’s “build, build, build” program.
In his request, Colmenares asked Pernia to reveal whether or not the loan will be used to pay Chinese consultants.
“Uutang tayo ng P44 billion sa China tapos ibabalik din natin sa kanila dahil Chinese consultants ang kukunin?,” the former congressman said. (We will be borrowing P44 billion from China only to give it back to them because Chinese consultants will be hired?)
Colmenares appealed to government to be transparent about the loan provisions in order for the public to take a stand on the issue.
“Tutubo na sila sa interes sa utang, consultants pa nila ang makikinabang sa kontrata,” said Colmenares.
(They will profit from the loan interest yet their consultants will still benefit from the contract)
In his FOI request, Colmenares requested the official and certified true copies of the loan documents and contracts covering the said consultancy services, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the PNR South Long Haul Project, and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project.
He made the request to confirm the existence of the said documents and contracts and to comply with court requirements “in case my office believes a case should be filed in court in relation to these documents.”
It was Colmenares who brought to the public attention a leaked copy of the Chico River project loan agreement that he called “onerous and favorable to China.”
The said loan agreement showed a high interest rate of 2% and provisions requiring the use of a Chinese contractor, the use of a Beijing-based arbitration body under China’s laws, and a confidentiality clause that prevented public scrutiny.
He made the request in accordance with several constitutional provisions as well as NEDA’s FOI guidelines.
“Kung wala silang tinatago dapat ilabas nila ang mga dokumento. Public transparency, not official secrecy, should be the rule since these contracts and loan agreements will tie our people down for 20-25 years,” Colmenares said. (If they are not hiding anything they should produce the document)