Philippines honors Kaliwa Dam deal with China, won’t accept Japan proposal: official
Published: Mar 20, 2019 09:28 PM

Pedestrians wait to cross the street in front of the Avida Towers Altura Complex at Alabang, Muntinlupa City in Manila, Philippines, on March 25, 2018. Photo: VCG

The Philippines is honoring the China-funded agreement to build the Kaliwa Dam, and any other proposal will not affect the bilateral agreement, a Philippine official said Wednesday after a Japan-based company reportedly submitted an alternate plan to increase water supplies for Metro Manila.

"We respect the deal with China. I haven't actually seen the proposal, but definitely it won't do anything to our arrangement with China. We will continue with that," Mark A. Villar, secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Philippines, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Osaka-based infrastructure developer Global Utility Development Corp (GUDC) on Monday asked the Philippine government to push through with its proposed construction of a low-level dam along the Kaliwa River, CNN reported.

The GUDC plan would tap the same resources as the Chinese plan for the Kaliwa Dam project. In November 2018, China and the Philippines signed a loan agreement for the dam, which will be built by the China Energy Engineering Corp (CEEC). It is expected to be finished around 2023.

Although the GUDC said its 7-meter high weir is a safer and cheaper option than the China-proposed 73-meter dam, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the government agency in charge of ensuring Metro Manila's water supply, on Tuesday insisted that the China-funded Kaliwa Dam is better than the Japanese proposal.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, MWSS administrator Reynaldo Velasco explained that what is needed is an impounding dam like the one proposed by the Chinese side, said Tuesday. 

"We cannot be sure that during times of crisis we can store water under the Japanese contract," Velasco said. He noted that it is actually the height of the China-funded dam that will help prevent flooding and store enough water for the dry season. 

Zhao Jianglin, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that as local officials have noted, the two projects cannot be compared.

"It doesn't make sense that China made a unnecessary plan to increase its own input and risk," Zhao said. "China's proposal was evaluated by experts and revised by local authorities, and they know for sure the plan is more beneficial for local residents.

"In the past, Japanese companies have done similar things to interfere with Chinese projects in other countries," Zhao added. "It's obvious that their purpose is not just to carry out win-win cooperation that will benefit local residents."

On Monday, the MWSS said that the China-funded plan is a done deal. The agency said that the country's National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has already approved the Kaliwa Dam project, and the MWSS cannot implement a project unless it is approved by NEDA, another report said.

"We did not see such reports, and they are irrelevant to our project. Our project is protected by a contract," Duan Qiurong, secretary to the president of CEEC, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

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