PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has vowed to respect whatever will be the result of the arbitration case filed by a Belgian firm against the Philippine government over the scrapping in 2010 of an P18-billion dredging project in Laguna that aims to prevent massive flooding in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.
In an interview with the media after his meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Ripo during his recent trip to Belgium, Aquino said the latter brought up the arbitration issue “in passing” and asked him why he abandoned the project that was originally awarded to Belgian firm Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC).
The President said he explained to the Belgian leader his position on the project, which is now with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C.
ICSID is an international arbitration forum under the World Bank Group. It is where BDC brought up its case against the Philippine government after the “unilateral” cancelation of the project after Aquino suspected it to be a “midnight deal” of the previous administration.
If the BDC wins the case, the Philippine government will have to pay P4 billion in damages.
“We explained to the Prime Minister the main contention. There is an P18.7-billion project and, basically, it will remove silt from one portion of the lake and move it to another portion of the lake. So if the objective is to increase the water holding capacity of the lake, matter occupying space will not, the same matter occupying in effect the same space, will not resolve [the problem],” the President told reporters.