“Nakalangkag na gid ang amon buot sa pag-abot sang sini nga proyekto nga may daku nga bulig sa amon kauswagan (We are very eager for the implementation of this project which will be of big help for the betterment of our lives)”. This is written in the Resolution of Support for Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) by the Indigenous Peoples’ Organization (IPO) of the eight (8) directly affected barangays of Calinog.

IPO leaders together with the Panay Bukidnon Council of Elders, Barangay Captains of the 16 directly and indirectly affected IP barangays of Calinog and Irrigators’ Associations (IA) from existing and new irrigation areas appealed to the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) to immediately start JRMP II implementation. This was during the dialogue between the stakeholders, EDCF Environmental and Social Safeguards (ES) Team and the executives of the Korea Exim Bank led by Director Hyeyoung Yang of KExim-EDCF Operations Department 1.

Said dialogue was part of the 2nd quarter visit of the ES Team which was accompanied by the executives of Exim Bank.

“I believe that the project is ready. All of us are responsible in the upliftment of lives of the people, not only in the Philippines, not only in Southeast Asia, not only in Asia but all throughout the world,” said Regional Manager Gerardo P. Corsiga in his speech during the Kick-off meeting for the ES Monitoring Team mission of the EDCF.

 “Since the Korean government has approved the loan for JRMP II in 2012, the project have experienced many challenges particularly in environmental and social issues but these challenges were ultimately identified and appropriately addressed,” Director Yang said.

She added that the KExim Bank will continue to provide the necessary assistance through the ES team for the success of the project.

The ES team quarterly monitors and conducts field visits to ensure proper facilitation and implementation of pre-construction activities. Said team also provides recommendations to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in addressing challenges and complying with the requirements set by the funding institution.

To date, NIA has substantially complied all the requirements set by the EDCF. Only one out of the 24 conditions is still on the process for completion.

“We believe that as part of the requirements of the projects due diligence, we have substantially and completely complied,” said Regional Manager Corsiga.

Conditions of the EDCF and requests of the stakeholders especially the Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities were addressed through the Inter-agency Convergence initiative for JRMP II. Twenty-seven (27) national government agencies worked together for the delivery of commitments stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the IP communities. Different infrastructure and basic social services,which are not under the mandate of NIA, are provided by other agencies.

Regional Manager Corsiga emphasized the importance of said inter-agency mechanism.

“We pioneered in the inter-agency convergence. It is not only the Jalaur or the NIA who helped in the reality of the project. Other agencies helped just to answer holistically and fully the needs of these marginalized people,” he said.

On the other hand, Director Yang expressed her sincere appreciation to the NIA for continually coordinating with the ES Team in their missions. She added that they understand how crucial the project is to the economy of Iloilo and its people. /JP Flordalie L. Pagente