ILOILO City – If the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is to be believed, no one can prevent the Jalaur mega dam construction in Calinog, Iloilo.
In an interview on Panay News’ talk show “Reklamo Publiko” aired over DYOK Aksyon Radyo, NIA chief of the construction management section Engr. Benjamin Sanchez declared “all systems go” with the Php11.2 Jalaur mega dam construction, the biggest outside Luzon.
“Work will start in April or May this year. Our target date of completion will be sometime in 2018,” he said.
Resolution of non-consent
But Panay-Bukidnon indigenous peoples of Central Panay are still not losing their hopes for the stoppage of this destructive mega dam.
In a picket-dialogue yesterday, February 5, IP leaders issued their resolution of non-consent to the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The resolution reiterates the group’s disgust over the project that “we [IPs] will gain nothing from the mega dam but instead destruction to our lands, lives and livelihood.”
“This mega dam project is a form of land grabbing and will push us deeper into hunger and poverty,” the IPs stated in the resolution.
They were entertained by no less than the NCIP Region VI/VII director Atty. Leilene Marie C. Gallardo, herself an Igorot IP from Cordillera.
“We will take this resolution up to the en-banc commissioners. The en-banc commissioners will tackle this up and will decide whether to favor for or against the IPs,” she said.
The IPs came from the barangays of Alibunan, Agcalaga, Garangan and Masaroy, all from the municipality of Calinog in Iloilo Province, and Tacayan from Tapaz, Capiz province.
In Calinog, more and more barangays surfaced that they have not issued their consent on the dam construction.
Barangay Alibunan IPs joined the calls and are against the construction of an afterbay dam on their ancestral land in Sitio Alawihaw.
The afterbay dam stands 24 meters high. The main dam about two kilometers upstream of the afterbay dam is 106-109 meters and the catch dam in between the two is 40 meters.
Earlier this month, the three villages of Garangan, Masaroy, and Agcalaga (GMA), have all said no to dam construction.
The villages of Garangan and Masaroy did not agree due to low compensation cost to farmers’ destroyed crops and livelihood sources.
In another village, Agcalaga, 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 process is from November 16-30 last year while consensus building process followed two weeks after until last month.
Construction continues on IP lands
In Sitio Alawihaw however, various construction activities are on-going despite IPs non-consent.
Houses are already demolished for the main canal construction and farmlands are bulldozed and hectares of rice lands are destroyed for the road construction.
But IPs are still not properly compensated.
“They (NIA) destroyed our houses but only paid us half of our house’s cost,” said Nay Esperanza.
“Worst, they did not give us proper relocation area. Instead, we were only transferred a few meters away from our original house, and scared that we will be demolished again once the dam construction pushes through,” she said.
Nay Rea, whose land is bulldozed, rice farms covered in land, was only paid for a single cropping.
“The money is not even enough for us to survive in six months. But are land is no longer ours. We only get promises days after,” she said.
Houses along the Jalaur river are also tagged and are readied for demolition.
“The NIA surveyor said we will be demolished but when and where, we don’t know. They did not explain,” said Nay Remia.
Another mega dam
Not only the IPs of Calinog are at stake with the dam construction. Tapaz IPs also feared for their lives as 1st FPIC process are already moving.
About 18 upland barangays of Tapaz have already conducted their 1st FPIC process for the feasibility study of Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project (PRBIDP) or the Panay mega dam, costing about Php27 billion.
The process started December last year until January this year.
In Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz, community members already passed their resolution of non-consent to the conduct of the feasibility study to the NCIP director.
“This process is a mockery just like what happened to the Jalaur dam feasibility study. In actuality, the project is already in place and is only waiting for funding from international sources. We know that this project will only displace us, and take us away from our ancestral lands, the sole basis of our lives,” former barangay captain and TUMANDUK secretary general Aileen Catamin said.
The Jalaur dam feasibility study final report was submitted to the funding agency Korean Export-Import Bank November 2011 but FPIC for the feasibility study process in affected areas was only January to June 2012.