‘MEGA DAM CAN SAVE AGRICULTURE’
SENATOR Franklin M. Drilon led the groundbreaking and capsule-laying ceremony of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) II in Calinog, Iloilo on Feb. 27, 2019. Also present in the event were National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya, Korean Exim Bank Senior Executive Director Deog-yong Shin, South Korea Embassy Minister-Counsellor Sunyoung Kim, Iloilo Governor Arthur D. Defensor Sr., and NIA Regional Manager and JRMP II Concurrent Project Manager Gerardo P. Corsiga. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)
THE official groundbreaking of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) II in Calinog, Iloilo pushed through on Feb. 27, 2019 after numerous delays.
Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon led the groundbreaking and capsule laying ceremony at Barangay Agcalaga.
He was joined by National Irrigation Administration Head Gen. Ricardo Visayas (Retired); Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr.; Deog-Young Shujn, Senior Executive Director of the Export-Import Bank of Korea; and Minister- Counsellor Sunyoung Kim, head of Economic, Trade, and ODA Department of South Korean government.
President Rodrigo Duterte was invited to grace the occasion but Visaya said he had a prior commitment.
The activity officially marked the official start of the implementation of the JRMP II, which is dubbed as an “important economic game-changer” for Iloilo province.
For most Ilonggo farmers, the start of the permanent work for the JRMP II is the realization of an aspiration conceived more than fifty years ago.
Even Drilon, the main proponent of the project, acknowledged that the JRMP II is the fulfillment of the impossible dream of the Ilonggos.
The project is the largest water reservoir that will be constructed outside Luzon.
It also serves as NIA’s flagship project in the Visayas.
The JRMP II is envisioned to usher inclusive rural growth through year-round irrigation couple with Institutional Development and Environmental Management.
As the NIA boasted, it will be of “mega” benefits as the project will also bring bulk water supply pot, hydroelectric power, and eco-tourism opportunities during its 4-year implementation.
Given these gains, national, local and foreign leaders believed that JRMP II would mean better lives for the Ilonggos.
The primary areas that will be service by the project include the towns of Calinog, Lambunao, Badiangan, Janiuay, Cabatuan, Sta. Barbara, Pavia, Alimodian, Leon, San Miguel, Oton, Tigbauan, Dueñas, San Enrique, Anilao, Dingle, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Mina, New Lucena, Pototan, Zarraga, and Leganes and Passi City, and Iloilo City.
The South Korean government, through the Export-Import Bank’s Economic Development Cooperation, extended a loan for $208 million under its Official Development Assistance program.
The loan agreement was signed in 2012. The Philippine government’s counterpart is P2.2 billion.
Despite the project’s delay, Engr. Gerardo Corsiga, NIA-6 regional manager and concurrent JRMP II project manager, that the fund is still enough and they contingencies were part of the plan.
But in case there is a need for additional funding, Drilon said that they could allocate from the national budget.
The JRMP came into being in June 1960 under Republic Act 2651. Atage 1 involves the rehabilitation of irrigation system covering an area of 22,340 hectares.
Stage II involves the construction of a large-scale reservoir dam to provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 31,840 hectares of farmland.
Stage 1 was completed in July 1982 and it resumed in 2009 with the conduct of a feasibility study.
The JRMP II is the first large-scale reservoir outside of Luzon. The project will support irrigation water for 31,840 hectares form lots.
It will include the construction of three dumps, a 109-meter high dam, and a 38-meter afterbay dam across the Jalaur River, and a catch dam at the Alibunan River.
An 80-kilometer high line canal will also be constructed to deliver water from the dams to the rice paddies.
Korean construction firm Daewoo Engineering and Construction will implement the project after clinching the International Competitive Bidding (ICB).
Drilon said JRMP II can help arrest the decline in agricultural productivity in Western Visayas.
From an impressive 17.9 percent growth in 2011, the agriculture sectors had a negative growth rate of 1.8 percent in 2015 and further contracted by a negative 0.5 percent in 2016.
“It’s very alarming,” Drilon said emphasizing that 40 percent of the labor force in the region is engaged in agriculture and fisheries.
JRMP II, which is expected to be completed by September 2022, is foreseen to improve the lives of 25,000 farmers; provide 17,000 jobs during its construction in the next three years; double rice production to nearly 300,000 metric tons per year; irrigate 32,000 hectares in 22 municipalities and two cities in Iloilo; improve the average yield of farmlands to 5.2 metric tons per hectare; provide 86,400 cubic meters of potable water daily; and generate 6.6 MW of hydro-electric power.