SC asked to void $211-m dam loan deal with China

The Supreme Court has been asked to nullify the $211.2-million Kaliwa Dam loan project of the government with China.

In a petition, the Makabayan group led by senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares asked the High Court to declare null and void the loan agreement for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project forged in Novermber 2017 by the government with Export-Import Bank of China to be implemented by China Energy Engineering Corp. 

Petitioners also sought immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of the project.

They also asked the high court to order the government to submit procurement and other documents for the Kaliwa Dam project as well as all other loan agreements with China.

The same group filed last month a similar petition questioning the government’s $62-million loan agreement with China for the Chico River irrigation pump project in the Cordillera region.

They raised practically the same arguments in this new petition on the Kaliwa Dam project.

Petitioners alleged that the confidentiality clause in the loan agreement violates the constitutional right of the Filipino people to information on foreign loans under Section 21, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.

“The Confidentiality Clause of the Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement is a brazen disregard of the constitutional right of the Filipino people to information on foreign loans obtained or guaranteed by the government, and is considered inimical to the national interest,” read the petition.

The group further argued that the loan agreement likewise violates Section 20, Article VII of the Constitution, which requires prior approval by the Monetary Board.

They said the assailed deal also violates Section 7, Article II of the Constitution, which states: “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

“The choice of the laws of China as the governing law of the agreement and Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) as the tribunal circumvent Section 7 of Article II of the Constitution,” they argued.

They said the loan agreement, which awarded the project to a pre-selected Chinese contractor, violates the constitutional preference to qualified Filipinos and existing procurement laws.

Lastly, they alleged that the agreement is an “express waiver of sovereign immunity over the State’s assets in favor of a foreign government violate by the Constitution.”

According to the Department of Finance, the Kaliwa Dam loan agreement has a low interest rate of 2 percent per annum, as compared with the 3 percent slapped on the $116.6-million loan deal for the Angat Dam projects during the Arroyo administration.

While both loan agreement had a 20-year maturity period, the Kaliwa Dam deal has a longer grace period of seven years against Angat’s five years.    

During the campaign period, Colmenares has filed at least three other petitions in the SC.

Aside from the Chico River case, he also filed the petition for writs of amparo and habeas data of the National Union of People’s Lawyers that he heads against alleged threats and harassment by the military and the petition questioning the legality of the bill deposits amounting to about P29 billion collected by Meralco from its consumers. 

Topics: Supreme Court , Neri Colmenares , Kaliwa Dam , China , Monetary Board
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