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The signing of the contract for the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase 2 (JRMP II) is set for September 3, Sen. Franklin M. Drilon said on Thursday.
The contract will be signed by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the project’s contractor, Korean firm Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd.
“It’s finally happening,” Drilon said in a statement. “This signals the start of the project which will bring back rice productivity in the Western Visayas region, spur the local economy and the ecotourism industry, and increase employment opportunities, particularly in Iloilo.”
The contract signing will be held at the NIA Building in Quezon City. Aside from Drilon, the event will be graced by officials of the NIA, led by Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya and Region 6 Director Gerardo P. Corsiga; and officials of the Korea Export-Import Bank (Kexim) and Daewoo.
It was Drilon who initiated the project in April 2011, when he met with the Korean government for the funding requirement.
With the JRMP II, Drilon said he is confident that agricultural production in the region will improve. Once completed, the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon will provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farmland, benefit more than 783,000 farmers and increase annual production of rice to 300,000 metric tons from 140,000 MT in Iloilo.
The project will also generate approximately 17,000 local jobs equivalent to P1.3 billion in basic wages per year, he added.
Drilon also said he is confident that the project will not suffer from any more delays given the NIA and Daewoo’s commitment to fast-track the implementation of the project.
“I share the optimisim of NIA that we can already proceed at the soonest with the groundbreaking and actual construction,” Drilon said.
JRMP II includes the construction of 109-meter Jalaur high dam, 38.5-meter afterbay dam, 10-meter Alibunan catch dam, 80.74-kilometer high line canal; generation of new areas for irrigation; and rehabilitation of existing irrigation system.
Drilon said agriculture in Western Visayas has suffered a decline for the past years, citing the contribution of agriculture (in real terms) to the gross regional domestic output of the region on a downward trend—from 14.1 percent in 2010 to -3.3 percent in 2013 due to a sharp decline in sugarcane and palay production.
He noted that the volume of production for palay has been declining in Western Visayas—from 2.292 million metric tons (MMT) in 2012, 2.09 MMT in 2013 and 2.052 MMT in 2014.
“Agriculture is the second-biggest contributor at 24.4 percent to the domestic output of Western Visayas, next to services at 57.2 percent. Hence, a decline in employment in the sector has a bearing on the poverty incidence in the region and on the economy,” Drilon said.
He said the decline in farm output affected agricultural employment in the region, from 5.63 percent in 2011 to -2.89 percent in 2013.
JRMP II was first implemented by NIA in the 1960s after the fourth Congress passed Republic Act 2651, which provides for the construction of the JRMP in Iloilo. Its first phase was completed in the 1980s but its second phase was derailed for over
Drilon said it was the Korean government, through its Export-Import Bank’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund, which extended P8.95-billion as official development assistance to implement the project through. The government counterpart fund is P2.2 billion.
Drilon said the interest rate for JRMP II is the lowest the country can get at 0.15 percent compared to the loans being offered by China, which carries an interest rate of 3 percent.