THE signing of the contract for the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Phase II (JRMP II) is set for September 3, 2018. The contract signing is between the National Irrigation Office (NIA) and the project’s contractor, Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd., Senator Franklin M. Drilon announced Wednesday.
“It’s finally happening,” said Drilon in a press statement.
“This signals the start of the project which will bring back rice producivity in the Western Visayas region, spur the local economy and the eco-tourism 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 VI 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 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 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 said he is confident that the project will not suffer from any more delays given 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.
“I would also like to congratulate them, particularly Administrator Visaya and Dir. Corsiga, for working hard so we can proceed with the project,” he added.
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 that 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 Western Visayas on a downward trend from 14.1 percent in 2010 to a negative 3.3 percent in 2013 brought about by a sharp decrease in sugarcane and palay production.
The volume of production for palay has been declining in Western Visayas – from 2,292,201 metric tons (mt) in 2012, 2,090,790 mt in 2013, and 2,052,574 mt in 2014, he noted.
“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 agricultural output affected agricultural employment in the region, from 5.63 percent in 2011 to negative 2.89 percent in 2013.
JRMP II was first implemented by NIA in 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 1980s but its second phase was derailed for over five decades.
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 Drilon’s initiatives. The government counterpart fund is P2.2 billion.
Drilon emphasized that 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 is three percent interest rate.