THE SUPREME COURT (SC) ordered the government to comment on a petition filed by the Makabayan bloc against the implementation of the $62 million Chico River Irrigation Pump Project funded by China.
“The Supreme Court ordered the respondents to file their comment to the petition within a period of 10 days,” SC Public Information Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka said.
The respondents to the petition are President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, and National Irrigation Administration Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya.
The Makabayan bloc, led by Senate candidate Neri J. Colmenares, on April 4 filed the petition to overturn the loan agreement with China.
The 67-page petition claims that the loan agreement should be declared void due to its waiver of sovereign immunity in regard to patrimonial assets.
“In violation of the above constitutional mandate, the Philippines practically relinquishes ‘control’ of energy or marine resources if the agreement allows China to control said resources in the West Philippine Sea including those covered by Special Contracts, and even those within Philippine territory,” it said.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio warned in March that China could seize Reed Bank should the Philippines default on its debt.
The Makabayan bloc also said that by agreeing to bring any abrbitration before the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), the government “betrayed the lack of sensitivity to the Constitution and gravely abused (its) discretion.” “Such one-sidedness is plain even to the uninitiated eye.”
It said the inclusion of a “confidentiality clause” in the agreement violates the Constitution as it is in “brazen disregard” of the Constitutional right of Filipinos to be informed of foreign loans.
The Makabayan bloc also said that the loan agreement does not conform to the Constitution as it sought the approval of the Monetary Board after signing the agreement, contrary to the requirement that the Monetary Board approve any such loans beforehand.
The President on April 1 ordered the Justice Secretary and the Solicitor-General to review all government contracts entered by the government and get rid of “onerous provisions.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas