The Kaliwa Dam project has already cost Philippine taxpayers 45.782 million pesos in commitment fees to be paid to the Export-Import Bank of China.

According to an audit report on the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) released last August 4, the project incurred 18.77 million pesos in 2020 and 27.012 million pesos in 2021 in commitment fees – an imposed charge by creditors on the basis of an agreed pre-percentage of the unused loan amount set aside by a foreign or domestic credit institution.

The Kaliwa Dam is financed by a $211.215 million loan from China Eximbank based on an agreement signed between the bank and MWSS on November 20, 2018.

Government auditors said China Eximbank had already made available about 85% of the loanable sum, but MWSS had not yet drawn any amount, hence the charges.

“The commitment fee incurred was due to the delay in starting the actual physical construction activities of the Kaliwa Dam Project. To date, the MWSS still lacks the necessary permits and licenses as required by the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC),” the Audit Commission said.

Among the requirements are a duly signed memorandum of understanding with the relevant local government units, an indigenous peoples development plan approved by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the establishment of a reforestation program and mechanisms carbon sinks to offset greenhouse gases. , a detailed waste management program, a comprehensive inventory and assessment of endangered species likely to be affected by clearance operations, and the establishment of a multi-party monitoring team to oversee the project and verify compliance with all environmental policies.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also imposed restrictions against commencing any activity until the developer has met specific conditions under RA 7586 or the System Act. National Integrated Protected Area (NIPAS) as amended by RA 11038; certification from NCIP; and the identification, creation and approval of excavated material disposal sites.

In its response to the audit findings, the MWSS management stated that it had requested the assistance of the Anti-Bureaucracy Authority (ARTA) to mediate with the relevant government agencies and expedite the processing of the certificate of prerequisite.

He said the NCIP had also received the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) signed by the leaders of the indigenous peoples concerned. The Dumagat have previously opposed the dam project which will force them to abandon their ancestral domains.

Regarding land acquisition for the port area of ​​the tunnel, the MWSS said restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have also had a negative impact on the schedule.