President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos continues to recognize the immense importance of Iloilo’s biggest irrigation development project – Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage II (JRMP-II) in the development of Western Visayas.

In a recent move, PBBM, who sits as the Chairperson of the National Economic Authority (NEDA) Board, approved modifications in the implementation of the project during the 7th Board Meeting on July 19, 2023.

These modifications involve extension of project implementation period and loan validity, and increase in project cost, among others.

From its original completion date of February 9, 2023, the project implementation period was moved to September 25, 2024, and the loan validity was likewise moved to March 25, 2025, from its original schedule of August 9, 2023, after the National Irrigation Administration requested for a 594 calendar days extension.

Such request stemmed from the request of the Contractor for construction time extension due to impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and unfavorable weather onsite.

To note, construction activities for JRMP II commenced on April 10, 2019, few months before the COVID-19 pandemic that affected movements of people and goods globally.

Apart from time extension, NIA also requested for increase in project cost in the amount of 8.4 billion pesos.

The increase was attributed to factors such as inflation, foreign exchange trend, taxes and custom duties, and additional requirements for project implementation.

The depreciation of the value of peso against US dollars, which is the official currency of the loan agreement and the contract of international contractor Daewoo E&C, significantly affected the cost of the project.

To note, the exchange rate during the time of the signing of the loan in 2012 was 41.30 pesos per US dollar and current exchange rate used in the project is peg at 55.68 pesos per US dollar as of December 2022.

On top of these, additional requirements imposed by the Korea Exim Bank Environmental and Social Safeguard Policy and the Philippine Government also contributed to the additional expenses for the project.

The agency maintains that the said amount is needed to complete the project on time.

As of July 2023, the project is on schedule and has attained 68.56% overall physical accomplishment.

Two (2) out of the three (3) dams namely Jalaur Afterbay Dam and Alibunan River Catch Dam are already substantially completed.

Meanwhile, the Jalaur High Dam is already 99 meters high out of its 109-meter designed height and is expected to be substantially completed by end of 2023.

Construction of the irrigation canals are likewise ongoing with works in portions of the Municipalities of Calinog, Lambunao, Janiuay, and Cabatuan.

The project strongly supports the present administration’s thrust of improving the agriculture and food sector in order to attain food security.

Once completed and operational, the project will expand NIA’s irrigation service area by 9,500 hectares covering rain-fed agricultural lands in 17 towns from the first to fourth district of the province, benefitting an estimated 7,000 farmers.

On top of this, JRMP-II will likewise augment irrigation water to the five existing National Irrigation Systems (NIS) with a combined service area of 22, 340 hectares and 17,000 farmer-beneficiaries.

With this, the project will boost rice production to an estimated 338,874 metric tons per year equivalent to a 71.54% increase from its current production of 197,545 metric tons.

Apart from irrigation and agri-based development, the Project will also generate other benefits such as hydroelectric power, bulk water, eco-cultural tourism, flood mitigation and employment.

JRMP-II Project Manager Engineer Jonel Borres welcomed this recent development and expressed his sincerest gratitude to PBBM’s administration.

“We sincerely thank our President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. and to our Administrator Engr. Eduardo Eddie Guillen for their unprecedented support to the project”, he expressed.

JRMP-II is expected to fully operate by mid of 2025.