Duterte willing to review Kaliwa contract

Published January 2, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Geducos

Malacañang said President Duterte would be willing to review the government’s contract for the China-funded New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project in Rizal if anyone would point out the supposed onerous provisions in the contract.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 44th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on December 2, 2019. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna representative Carlos Isagani Zarate expressed concern over President Duterte’s insistence to proceed with the controversial project.

In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said Duterte would comb through the contract himself if anyone would point out to him the provisions that would supposedly put the government at a disadvantage.

“That goes without saying. Ang Presidente naman basta may nag-point out sa kanya na merong onerous provision tinitignan niya agad yun (If there is someone whould would point out the onerous provision, he will immediately look into it),” he said.

“Kung nakaligtas man yun doon sa mga dapat tumingin, siya mismo titingnan niya yun (If that slipped past the people who first looked at it, then he will comb through it himself),” he added.

However, Panelo expressed belief that those who drafted the contract would have ensured that there were no onerous provisions.

“I’m sure those who drafted the agreement know exactly whether or not those provisions would be disadvantageous to this government. So since inaprubahan nila ‘yan, palagay ko nagkaroon na ng checking diyan kung disadvantageous nga o hindi (they approved it, I think they already checked if it was disadvantageous or not),” he said.

The Palace official said that the government can always remove the onerous provisions so the construction of the dam can continue.

“Pwede mo naman tanggalin yung onerous provison, tuloy mo pa rin yung kontrata (You can always remove the onerous provision and then honor the contract),” Panelo said.

On Monday, President Duterte gave the green light to the construction of the Kaliwa Dam, saying it would be Metro Manila’s last resort to have water. He likewise vowed to pay and relocate the indigenous peoples who would be affected by the project.

“I can give you a little bit of an elbow room to move. Itong mga nakatira doon (Those who are living there), they are, of course, they are all natives. They are trying to delay the project by… And we need water,” he said Monday.

The Kaliwa Dam project in Tanay, Rizal is facing opposition from environmental groups and local officials, saying it would displace indigenous peoples and will have an adverse effect on the environment.

Earlier, Malacañang said the government can still rescind its contract with China for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project if it would be proven that the project is disadvantageous for the country.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has also questioned the selection of the contractor for the Kaliwa Dam project, saying the results of its bidding was in the “guise of being a competitive procurement process.”