By: JOHN IAN ALENCIAGA
ILOILO City – Militant group BAYAN Panay on Friday expressed that “it is the Aquino government and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) that is spreading fear and causing bloodshed against the people.”
“These development aggression projects of BS Aquino – mega dams, mining activities, urban skyscrapers, among others – are the ones causing bloodshed. The dislocation of affected families and the destruction of their lives and livelihood are tantamount to killing,” BAYAN Panay chairperson Hope Hervilla said.
This is the group’s response to pro-dam indigenous people’s (IPs) claim that bloodshed will occur between them and anti-dam IPs if the Jalaur mega dam’s second Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC 2) process is not conducted immediately. The FPIC 2 is getting the IPs consent for the dam construction.
In the mountains of Calinog and Tapaz, two mega dams with combined budget of almost Php38 billion – Php11.2 for the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase (JRMP2) and Php22-27 billion for the Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project (PRBIDP) or Panay dam – endanger and threaten the lives and livelihood of 35,000 Panay-Bukidnon or tumandok IPs.
These projects are now undergoing pre-feasibility studies being conducted by the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). These dams are all under the direct supervision of the NIA Regional Office VI.
“These mega dams would entail thousand casualties not only to the IPs but also to the people in the downstream areas once there is a dam breakage. Until now, the NIA has not presented nor discussed to the public any related documents in the event of a dam failure. Houses along the Jalaur river are now being destroyed but families were never relocated and compensated properly,” Hervilla added.
“Right now, the NIA are dividing the IPs that will cause an eventual cultural division and IP degeneration. The IP communities are also being deployed with military and paramilitary groups from the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army – Alex Bongcayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) to suppress any anti-dam sentiments and the IPs struggle for their ancestral lands and right to self-determination,” Hervilla added.
Last September 25, 32 IPs were charged with rebellion filed by Police Inspector Leomindo Tayopon at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Capiz.
“These IPs are residents of the barangays in Calinog and Tapaz were these mega dams will be situated. This is one of the government’s way of ensuring that any legitimate act or opposition against these dams will be faced with brutal military force and are synonymous to rebellion,” Hervilla said.
“These acts are all packaged under the Oplan Bayanihan of BS Aquino to further suppress peoples’ struggle for national independence and democracy. This must be faced however with stronger, broader and wider peoples’ protest actions and mass mobilizations to further expose the corrupt-tainted and US-puppet Aquino government until his eventual ouster,” Hervilla concluded.
Human rights group Karapatan recorded 204 extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and 21 enforced disappearances (EDs) since BS Aquino set foot in office from July 2010 to June 2014. The peasant sector are the most victimized with 117 EJKs and 14 EDs followed by IPs with 49 EJKs and one ED./