By Raymund Antonio
Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Chel Diokno on Monday raised concern over several provisions in the government’s loan agreement with China for the construction of the P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province.
Among the issues raised by Diokno on the Chinese loan contract were the high interest rates and fees, as well the waiver in the agreement, which he described as “alarming.”
“Compared to Japanese loans, the interest rate of the loan agreement with China is double, 2 percent per annum, ” Diokno, a human rights lawyer, said. “The highest rate in Japanese loans is 1.25 percent only.”
Diokno further explained that even the fees in the China-funded project were higher than other proposals.
“Also the commitment fee is even higher and it has management fee that is not included when it comes to Japanese loans,” the opposition bet said.
Diokno warned against the dam project during the second campaign sortie of the Otso Diretso slate in the vote-rich province of Cebu. He is in Cebu for a two-day visit.
The public can now go over the deal after the Department of Finance (DOF) posted the loan agreement on its website.
Diokno, who represents various groups opposing the construction of the dam, wrote a letter to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., asking them to publicize the documents related to the project.
They specifically requested for copies of the Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement and the Commercial Contract between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and China Energy Engineering Corporation.
Diokno also raised concerns over the “waiver of sovereign immunity clause” in the loan agreement with China similar to the controversial Chico River irrigation project.
Last Friday, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned about the waiver that would allow China to seize “patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use” of the Philippine government in case the country defaults on its loan.
“The waiver of that is broader compared to Chico River project,” Diokno noted.
The veteran lawyer is looking forward to the release of the Commercial Contract, saying that they would know through the document the obligation of the contractor.
“We will also see in the provision about the Chinese workers. That will be included if there is any,” said Diokno.
In Cebu, he was also asked about the recent release from custody of the 17-year-old suspect in the rape and gruesome murder of Cebuano teenager Christine Silawan.
Diokno said that law enforcement authorities should work well when it comes to gathering evidence for the case.
“I think the most important (thing) here is handling of evidence,” he said, referring to the forensic evidence.
“Because the witnesses can be intimidated. The supposed suspect can be forced to confess, but physical evidence does not lie,” Diokno said.