No TRO vs. Chico River Dam project; SC orders gov’t to comment

BAGUIO CITY A suit urging the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the government from securing a USD62-million loan from China to fund the construction of the Chico River Dam failed to get immediate relief from the tribunal.

At the end of its en banc session here, the High Court instead ordered the government to comment on the suit which had been filed by a number of progressive groups and individuals who claim the deal is unconstitutional.

The petition for prohibition seeking the issuance of temporary restraining order filed last week questioned the Preferential Buyer's Credit Loan Agreement on the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, among others.

Among other things, petitioners claimed the deal contains an express waiver of sovereign immunity over patrimonial assets in favor of a foreign government as well as a confidentiality clause.

The agreement, the petitioners also said, was approved after-the-fact by the Monetary Board, which was against the requirement of prior concurrence under the law and would be awarded to a Chinese construction firm.

The petitioners are likewise seeing red over supposed provisions which would bring the country to a Chinese arbitration tribunal in case of disputes.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said critics of the terms of the Philippine government's loan from China for the Chico River Project are simply "jumping the gun".

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra dismissed fears being raised by some quarters in case the government defaults on its obligations as being far-fetched.

MalacaAang earlier dismissed the allegations made by senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, one of the petitioners, that the loan agreement for the Chico River pump irrigation project was a "disaster for the Philippines".

Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, reiterated that the agreement had undergone the proper procedures in accordance with the law. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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