By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — The completion of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project (JRMP) will help boost the country’s food security and address declining agricultural productivity, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon who championed the construction of the biggest dam outside of Luzon.
“The completion of this mega dam by December of next year will provide the much-needed push in the incoming administration’s efforts to address the numerous challenges to the country’s food security,” Drilon said on Friday.
“Its immediate completion will play a crucial role in the Marcos administration’s commitment to stabilize the food supply and improve food production,” Drilon stressed.
Drilon said the P11.2-billion irrigation project will provide the critical support needed by farmers and the agriculture sector “in order to improve productivity.”
“The construction of Jalaur Multi-Purpose Project will improve agricultural production in Western Visayas and in the country. JRMP will increase annual production of rice in Iloilo to 300,000 metric tons from 140,000 metric tons. It will likewise expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops,” Drilon said.
Drilon thus hopes that President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who will sit as agriculture secretary, will include among its priorities the construction and completion of agricultural facilities in the country such as JRMP.
As of May 31, 2022, the project is 44.80 percent complete, Drilon noted.
Stalled for more than three decades, the P11.2-billion is the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon. It was Drilon who secured the funding for JRMP from Korea through its Export-Import Bank which extended $207 million loan to the country payable in 30 years at an interest rate of 0.15% per annum. The project is the single biggest Official Development Assistance (ODA) project of South Korea.
JRMP II will be able to provide year-round irrigation to 31,840 hectares of farm lots in the Province of Iloilo, so Iloilo, and the whole of Western Visayas, Drilon added.
JRMP II includes the construction of 109-meter Jalaur high dam, 38.5-meter afterbay dam, 10-meter Alibunan catch dam, 80.74-kilometer high line canal; generation of new areas for irrigation; and rehabilitation of existing irrigation system.
As a multi-purpose project, JRMP will provide benefits such as flood mitigation and control, the promotion of eco-tourism in selected reservoir areas, and serve as possible source of power supply.
JRMP II was first implemented in 1960s after the fourth Congress passed Republic Act 2651, which provides for the construction of the JRMP in Iloilo. Its first phase was completed in 1980s but its second phase was derailed due to lack of funding. (ai/mtvn)