CALINOG, Iloilo – A local executive in the municipality of Calinog, where the mega dam is to be built, is distorting facts in saying former congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr. of the 2nd District was funding a scheduled rally against the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project – Phase II (JRMP-II) last February 15 in front of the municipal hall, according to an anti-dam group here.
“Mayor Alex Centena must be delusional for making the people to believe him that Syjuco funded our activity. He must stop distorting the facts and deceiving the people and must behave like an educated person, considering he’s already got a doctorate degree,” PAMATUK Dam spokesperson Nestor Castor said in the local dialect.
Mayor Centena, who got his doctorate degree via honoris causa on March 2014, was told by an informant regarding the rally of anti-dam indigenous peoples (IPs) but it never materialized. He learned later that the group instead had a meeting in a restaurant in the town, mostly coming from Iloilo City and Tapaz, Capiz.
“My informant said they were funded P100,000 just to stage a rally in Calinog,” Centena said in Panay News.
But IPs denied Centena’s accusations.
Anti-dam org launched
“We indeed had a meeting last February 15 and it was the launching of our anti-dam organization of indigenous farmers, farm workers, women, elders, barangay officials, students and professionals. But we did not get any centavo from Syjuco for that,” Castor added.
Eleven barangays gathered and united as one in opposing the Jalaur mega dam through the formation of PAMATUK Dam or Paghili-usa sang mga Mangunguma kag Tumandok Batuk Dam (Unity of Farmers and Indigenous Peoples Against Dam).
Attendee barangays were Agcalaga, Alibunan, Binolusan Pequeno, Cahigon, Caratagan, Carbasana, Garangan, Guinbunyugan, Owak, Simsiman, and Tuyungan.
The Panayanon-Bukidnon tribe has been opposing the mega dam since 2011.
“I am very happy to see that our strength has never weaken. We are gathered here today to celebrate that we have delayed the project for more than two years already and very positive to put a total stop on this in the coming days,” Castor said during the launching.
The government has earlier announced that constructions shall start in January 2013 but was moved several times because of the local IPs strong opposition. Latest announcement from the implementer National Irrigation Administration (NIA) declared construction to start in April or May this year.
Syjuco backs IPs
“If Syjuco indeed offered us of such amount, we would be thankful for at least he has a heart for us IPs. His case on the writ of kalikasan against the mega dam has helped us a lot in delaying the project and backing us up in our cause,” Castor said.
In October 2013, the Supreme Court (SC) has issued a writ of kalikasan against the construction of the Jalaur mega dam.
It was issued by Acting Chief Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. in favor of the petition for continuing mandamus and writ of kalikasan lodged by Syjuco.
For the future generation
“No amount of money can stop us from defending our lands, homes, livelihood, and culture. This is our only inheritance for the next generation. Without these, our whole race is gone,” Castor said.
“We already received threats, harassment, surveillance, and acts of bribery only to get our signatures in favor of the dam. And we are more than willing to die, if needed, in protection of our lives and the future generation,” Castor ended./