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NIA, Chinese contractor sign P4.37-billion Chico River deal


By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. yesterday announced the signing of the P4.37 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (Chico River PIP), one of the priorities identified by the Chinese embassy for loan financing.

In a statement, NIA and China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd. said the contract signing will pave the way for the start of the multibillion contract.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that the Chico River PIP project has been identified by Chinese Embassy as one of its priorities when it comes to loan financing. Aside from the Chico River PIP, the Chinese Embassy has also identified two other priority projects  – New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the North-South Railway Project (NSRP) – South Line of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

For the Chico River PIP, China will provide soft loans of $72.49 million, or about P3.7 billion, for the Chico River PIP under the first basket of infrastructure projects earlier presented by the Philippines for possible Chinese financing.

The project includes the construction of Pump House, Sub-Station, Transmission Line, Diversion Main Canal, Lateral Canals, Appurtenant Structures, Service/Access Road, and Terminal Facilities for Chico River PIP.

It aims to provide substantial and timely water supply for irrigation in support to the agricultural development of the Government.

Chico River PIP, whose water sources come from Chico River, covers the Municipality of Tuao and Piat in Cagayan, and the Municipality of Pinukpuk in Kalinga, Apayao. It has a total service area of 8,700 hectares benefiting 4,350 families.

NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said the agency is hoping that this project will be finished on time or even ahead of time since CAMC has a good reputation.

“This is a historical event because this is the first project undertaken by the present administration,” Visaya said.

Overall, the project is projected to create 14,784 jobs during project implementation and 8,700 permanents jobs when the project becomes completely operational.

However, critics of the project, mostly tribe members, fear that the project, which will require years of massive construction, will negatively affect their communities.

“This land is our source of our living and also where we buried our ancestors,” the Naneng, Dallak, and Minanga tribes earlier wrote to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The letter bore a resemblance to the 1980 opposition, led by Kalinga peace-pact holder Macliing Dulag, that was meant to stop the Chico Dam project of the Marcos administration.

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