No less than the highest Catholic leader in the Western Visayas, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, had given his blessing and prayers for the successful implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project II (JRMP II), according to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.
Drilon said he met with the Jaro prelate and Msgr. Meliton Oso to discuss the project, which is seen to be vital in the country's efforts to attain food security.
In their meeting, Drilon said that Archbishop Lagdameo, who is also a former president of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that he will “pray for the success of the Jalaur (River Multipurpose Project II), and let no one delay it any further.”
It was Drilon who negotiated for the P8.95-billion official development assistance (ODA) from Korea to fund the project. The government counterpart fund is P2.2 billion.
Drilon, said that he is, “along with my fellow Ilonggos, deeply grateful for Archbishop Lagdameo’s crucial show of support to the P11.2 billion megadam project.”
“We Ilonggos feel truly blessed with the words of inspiration and divine guidance coming from Archbishop Lagdameo, as we push forward this revolutionary project that will not only uplift the lives of our Ilonggo farmers, but will also benefit the people of this region,” Drilon said.
Drilon said that “the good archbishop only asked that the people of Panay be made the beneficiaries of this undertaking, which it surely will.”
The Senate leader said that his discussions with Archbishop Lagdameo detailed how the JRMP II will positively affect the region’s agricultural which has contracted in the recent years.
“For farmers, a direct effect of the JRMP II is the steady provision of irrigation water to farmlands in 21 Iloilo towns. With the dam operational, we will see a projected increase of rice production from the present 140,000 metric tons per year to 350,000 metric tons, which will help the country in attaining food security,” Drilon said.
Drilon also assured the archbishop that the government will also ensure that the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs) are protected.
The Senate leader also relayed to the Jaro prelate how the megadam will "provide potable water of 89,000 cubic meters per day and 6.6 megawatts of hydroelectric power which will supplement Iloilo’s power supply needs." The project would also provide for a highway which is 80 kilometers long and traversing 7 municipalities in Iloilo, he added.
Drilon said that “given the scale of this ambitious project, it will provide jobs to 17,000 people during the construction phase,” and mentioned the project’s tourism potential.
He then invited other local, civil, and religious leaders to support the JRMP II as a “vital representation of Iloilo’s rise both as a business hub and agricultural dynamo of the Visayas.”
“We ask our fellow countrymen, especially our fellow Ilonggos, to join us like Archbishop Lagdameo, in pushing for the JRMP II, which are major and ambitious projects and programs that are designed to help the lowliest and most underprivileged of our countrymen,” he concluded.