Press Release
July 24, 2016

P11.2-B Jalaur project gets DA chief go-signal, says Drilon

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol gave his go-signal for the implementation of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project (JRMP), Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said today.

"I thank Secretary Piñol for his support and commitment to continue the implementation of the Jalaur project. His backing is vital for the smooth execution of this decades-old project, which was mandated by Republic Act 2651 in 1960," Drilon said.

"Indeed, the implementation of the JRMP will play a crucial role in President Rodrigo Duterte's commitment to provide 'free, sufficient and efficient' irrigation system to our farmers," Drilon said.

Piñol made a courtesy call on the Senate Chief on Thursday to discuss the administration's projects, particularly the free irrigation advocacy.

In the meeting, Drilon said Piñol assured him that JRMP would "push through."

The agriculture secretary even said that "he will be on top of it", Drilon added, in order to expedite its implementation.

Given Piñol's support to the project, Drilon hopes that the National Irrigation Administration and other agencies involved in the project "can now get back to their feet and proceed with its implementation."

"The JRMP will be vital in the administration's advocacy of providing free irrigation for farmers since the project will provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farm land and benefit more than 25,000 farmers," Drilon stressed.

"This project, which will be the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon, will increase the irrigated lands in the region by around 10 percent and the annual regional rice production by around five percent. It will likewise expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops," he underscored.

The Senate chief also expressed his full support for Pinol's free irrigation advocacy: "It is high time the Congress pass a legislation that will provide for free irrigation system for farmers."

"If we want to attain food security and rice self-sufficiency, then we must provide full and unconditional support for the poor farmers," Drilon said.

He said that JRMP will augment agricultural production, stimulate agri-industrial activities, spur the local economy and the eco-tourism industry, increase employment opportunities and contribute to the development of the Province of Iloilo and the Western Visayas, in general.

The implementation of the JRMP was mandated under Republic Act No. 2651 enacted by Congress in 1960. Phase one of the project, which consisted of rehabilitating the irrigation systems with an area of 22,340 hectares, was completed in 1983. But Phase 2 of the project was never implemented since 1988 due to lack of funds.

In 2012, the Korean government extended a P8.95-billion official development assistance to the Philippine government to implement the Phase 2 of JRMP. The country's counterpart fund is P2.2 billion.

As a multi-purpose project, JRMP will provide benefits such as flood mitigation and control, and the promotion of eco-tourism in selected reservoir areas, Drilon noted.

The project will also generate approximately 17,000 local jobs equivalent to P1.3 billion in basic wages per year, he concluded.

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