ILOILO City – After declaring that indigenous peoples (IP) activities against Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP2) is funded by a former congressman, Calinog Mayor Alex Centena faces allegations to his involvement in obtaining the consent of IPs in favor of the project which violates the IP law.
“Centena as a mayor is using his powers to coerce the people into accepting the project despite the clear disastrous effect of the said project to the lives, livelihood, culture and heritage of around 17,000 IPs covered by the dam. Centena personally convinces residents who oppose the dam to give consent,” Dagsaw Panay and Guimaras Indigenous Peoples Network Inc. executive director Cynthia A. Deduro said.
“The acts of Centena are clearly violating the Rule XI Part I:Unlawful acts provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA) section 1 parts “(b) misrepresentation in obtaining the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/IPs” and “(c) forcible displacement or relocation of ICCs/IPs from their ancestral lands/domain,” Deduro added.
Government officials are not supposedly involved in getting the consent of the IPs for the project. This duty is left to the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as the sole agency commissioned to ensure the FPIC process and obtaining the consent.
Centena, in the local Panay News, said that former congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr. of the 2nd District was funding a scheduled rally against the mega dam last February 15 in front of the municipal hall.
“This is a blatant lie! Believing on rumors not based on actual facts, Centena must be hallucinating. Syjuco is not funding any campaign related to opposing the Jalaur mega dam. ,” Deduro added.
“The truth is that the indigenous peoples from eleven barangays that will be affected by the mega dam gathered together last February 15 to form the PAMATUK Dam, to oppose the construction of the disastrous Jalaur river mega dam project.”
“The formation of the PAMATUK Dam is an earnest effort of the tumandok IPs and farmers in the uplands and lowlands to organize broader resistance against the mega dam and to resist the bribery and harassment of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the local government,” she added.
Violations to IP rights
The Jalaur mega dam project is supported by Centena despite clear violations of the implementer NIA of the IP rights to FPIC, according to Dagsaw.
“The NIA submitted the main report of the feasibility study of the JRMP2 on November 2011, without prior consultation with the IPs but the process only started on January 2012 after the IPs complained of such violations,” Deduro explained.
“Worse, NIA only discusses the positive side of the dam, but do not discuss the negative effects to the people upstream and downstream,” she added.
Despite local IPs opposition, road works and canal constructions have already started last year. Houses have already demolished and farm lands are bulldozed damaging hundred farmers lands, lives and livelihood./