Panay IPs say no to dam construction

CALINOG, Iloilo, Philippines – At least three upland barangays of Calinog, where the Php11.2 billion Jalaur mega dam is to be built, say no to dam construction in their consensus building from December last year up to last week of January this year.

Imitating the hawk's flight, or locally referred to as "banog", Central Panay IPs culture and tradition are endangered because of the Jalaur mega dam project of the Aquino administration.

Imitating the hawk’s (locally referred as “banog”) flight, Central Panay IPs’ culture and tradition are endangered because of the Jalaur mega dam project of the Aquino administration.

The three villages are Garangan, Masaroy, and Agcalaga (GMA), all in the town of Calinog in Iloilo Province.

The 2 villages of Garangan and Masaroy did not agree on the dam construction due to low compensation cost to farmers’ destroyed crops and livelihood sources.

In another village, Agcalaga, some community members passed a resolution of non-consent during the consensus building, a part of the 2nd Free, Prior and Informed Process (FPIC 2) being conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).

The FPIC 2 process for the dam construction was conducted by the NCIP from November 16-30 last year. The consensus that followed two weeks after lasted several weeks until last month.

“The project will kill us. It will take away our ancestral lands, the basis of our life,” said Berna Castor, one of the signatory whose more than 10-hectare ancestral land will be totally submerged in water once the dam is constructed.

“Until now, even during the FPIC 2 process, the proponent did not discuss comprehensively the issue of submersion and dislocation of our sources of livelihood and homes. The detailed relocation plan is merely a presentation of the relocation site and it is not feasible for everyone to stay there given that the area will be submerged also,” Castor added.

The Jalaur mega dam, a project being implemented by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), is perceived to provide electricity, potable water and irrigation water supply.

But TUMANDUK Organization, composed of indigenous peoples from Tapaz and Jamindan of Capiz Province and Calinog and Lambunao of Iloilo Province, has long been opposing the project since 2011.

“We have nothing to gain from this project, but only the destruction of our lives, and livelihood, and the continued land grabbing scheme of the government from us,” the group’s chairperson Marevic Aguirre said.

“The project will displace 17,000 IPs both upland and lowland. Ancestral burial grounds, coffee and banana plantations, the rivers and forest, will be all lost from us,” she continued.

A hundred per cent (100%) “yes” from all community members is needed to get the consensus of the community before construction starts.

Dam construction according to local officials will take place end of February or early March./ptlogo

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