MANILA – Makabayan chairman Neri Colmenares and several progressive groups asked the Supreme Court to block a $62-million loan from China to fund the construction of the Chico River Dam.
The petitioners argued the deal was unconstitutional because it contained a confidentiality clause that violates the Filipino’s right to information on foreign loans.
The petitioners said under the deal, the project will be awarded to a Chinese construction firm, thereby doing away with the country’s procurement laws and the Filipino First Policy.
It also hauls the country to a Chinese arbitration tribunal, officiated by its arbitrators using Chinese laws, in violation of the constitution, the petitioners added.
The complainants argued that the deal contained an express waiver of sovereign immunity over patrimonial assets in favor of a foreign government.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier warned that Beijing could seize oil and gas-rich Philippine assets in the South China Sea if the country reneged on payment for the loan of the Chico River project.
The petitioners noted that Beijing has competing claims with Manila over the west Philippine Sea and asks for a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the loan.
China, they added, “defrauded” the Philippines when it withheld data on the location of resources in the waterway under a joint exploration agreement.
The petitioners said: “To treat China in this petition like any ordinary creditor state is a major mistake. Tuso ang gobyerno ng Tsina at hindi maaring pagkatiwalaan.”
Among the petitioners were party-list representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis, Emerenciana De Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and Antonio Tinio and Francisca Castro of Act Teachers.
Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chairman Danilo Ramos, and Kalinga leader Elma Tuazon were also among the petitioners.
Respondents were President Rodrigo Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and several other Cabinet secretaries.
Government officials have maintained the loan agreement was not a debt trap and was properly screened by the Investment Coordination Committee composed of key Cabinet members. (With ABS-CBN/PN)