DECLARATION OF INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY AGAINST JALAUR RIVER MULTIPURPOSE PROJECT PHASE II
1st International Solidarity Mission in Jalaur River
18 July 2016
We, the delegates to the 1st International Solidarity Mission in Jalaur River, representing different organizations from 5 countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Philippines, and South Korea), stand united with the Tumandok people of Panay Island, also known as the Panay Bukidnon, in their struggle against the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II.
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT:
The Philippine government is set on implementing the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP II), which had its groundbreaking ceremony led by President Benigno Aquino III on February 2013. The project will construct a PHP11.212 billion dam in the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples (IP), the Tumandok, in Calinog town, province of Iloilo. This approved project will be funded by a PHP8.94 billion loan from The Export-Import Bank of Korea or Korea Eximbank and the remaining PHP2.2 billion will be the Philippine counterpart which in turn be taken out from the Filipino people’s taxes.
The Philippine Government and its agencies, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) have been less than upfront with regards this project. It was only when the organization TUMANDUK together with other cause-oriented organizations raised the hue and cry about the lack of proper processes, did the public know that the project never underwent the process of seeking the acceptance of the stakeholders, including the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the IP, Tumandok, who will be directly affected by the said project.
The stakeholders include: the 16 IP communities which will be directly and indirectly affected, the population in 30 additional communities identified as crash areas and 25 municipalities from the province of Iloilo and within the Jalaur River Basin vulnerable to flooding. Not to mention the rest of the nation who will shoulder and pay the costs of the megadam in Jalaur River. None of these groups were ever informed about the impacts of the proposed project, nor were they involved in the decision-making processes that is required of ODA-sourced projects.
There was no “prior” consultation because NIA’s feasibility study was already submitted to the Korea Eximbank in November 2011, even before the first FPIC process was initiated in January 2012. This was followed by a series of “consultative assemblies” culminating in the signing of the so-called FPIC for the dam construction on August 2015. There was no “free” consent because those in the affected communities have been and promised incentives in exchange for their support while those opposed to the project were subjected to threats and intimidation. Neither was this “informed” because only the project’s supposed advantages were presented while withholding the dangers and negative impacts.
As a consequence of this deception, not only will the Tumandok be displaced from their ancestral domain, the project will also result in the dissolution of their cultural identity and indigenous knowledge and practices which are rooted in the land. The construction of the dam will also destroy ancestral landmarks, burial grounds, sacred spots, and sites for rituals.
Our second concern is the lack of a comprehensive options assessment that is supposed to be part of the decision-making processes for the stakeholders, as provided by the report released in the year 2000 by the World Commission on Dams. A mega-dam project poses a wide range of concerns including the structural integrity of the infrastructure itself, its long-term impact on ecosystems and the social and economic costs to vulnerable sectors. In the long run, the question that the Philippine government must answer is: Will the cost benefit ratio of building a megadam in Jalaur River be worth it?
Concerned IP leaders and IP rights advocates initiated an environmental investigation along the dam site. Based on their initial survey, the site revealed questionable structural integrity in the foundation for the dam. The faults, joints and talus piles that were observed within the 1.25 kilometer stretch of the river imply a geologic condition which requires particular engineering design and technology. The investigation also yielded information on the diversity of species and presence of a few endemic animals, some of which are classified as endangered and critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (such as the Visayan writhed-billed hornbill, Red-vented cockatoo, and Visayan warty pig), and whose habitats will be greatly affected by the megadam.
These findings were also corroborated by the opinions and synthesis report done by Dr. Ricarte S. Javelosa, a geologist and geomorphologist expert. He pointed out that the project lacked a comprehensive Engineering and Seismic Risk Assessment (ESRA) and Engineering Geological and Geohazard Assessment (EGGAR) which are necessary in ensuring the structural integrity of the site and of the dam itself, considering that the proposed megadam sits on a fault line. The project also did not have a comprehensive hyrdrogeological study and groundwater vulnerability assessment which are relevant to both groundwater supply and control and ground-water contamination.
And third, stakeholders in the affected downstream communities have raised concerns as to the impacts of possible flooding on their lives and their livelihoods. The government claims that one of the objectives of the JRMP II is to provide irrigation water to farmers, but according to studies made by the Jalaur River for the People Movement, the so-called targeted ricelands for irrigation has been converted, in the process of conversion, or will be converted into real estate purposes.
Thus taking into account all these concerns raised by the Tumandok people and other stakeholders, we the delegates to the 1st International Solidarity Mission in Jalaur River, support and stand in one with them in their struggle against the implementation of JRMP II.
1. We call on the Philippine government, its agencies and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to respect the Tumandok people’s rights to their ancestral domain and their processes of decision-making. The Tumandok people must be able to make informed decisions freely, without coercion, bribery and promises from the government, its agencies, and the military. A genuine FPIC process must be observed.
2. We call for the stop of the militarization in the countryside, the pull-out of state security forces, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police’s Regional Mobile Group and Special Action Forces, and paramilitary groups from IP communities, and the investigation of human rights violations that were committed to coerce the IPs into consenting to the JRMP II.
3. We moreover call on the Philippine government to carry out the prompt indemnification of IPs and other victims for their properties damaged in the course of the implementation of the JRMP II.
4. We also call on the Duterte administration to review all development projects, including mega-dams and reforestation programs, intended to be implemented in the Tumandok people’s ancestral domain and to end projects which desacralize the Tumandok people’s cultural identity and violate their rights.
5. And we call on the South Korean Government, the loan-provider for the JRMP II, to deeply evaluate the issues that were raised by the IP communities and other stakeholders and to take necessary actions to address these concerns, including withholding of funds unless these concerns are properly addressed.
1. We recommend that an independent study on the feasibility of the proposed Jalaur River Dam be done in order to assess the proposed dam’s structural integrity, its impacts on the ecosystems along the Jalaur River, its socio-economic impacts on the IP communities that will be directly and indirectly affected by the dam including the downstream communities.
2. We also recommend that an exhaustive and comprehensive assessment be made on options and alternatives to the mega-dam. Of particular interest would be to assess the feasibility of small and micro-dams that are less hazardous and can still provide irrigation water to farming communities. Another option would be the rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems.
3. We further recommend that proposed dam projects in Jalaur and in Pan-ay rivers comply with the guidelines in the final report of the World Commission on Dams in 2000; that the process of free, prior and informed consent be strictly observed; and that international guidelines and safeguards on dam-building and projects related to ODA be followed as well.
Organisations & Advocates
Alliance of Health Workers, Philippines Anakbayan, Philippines Anakpawis-Panay, Philippines Asian Peasant Coalition, global Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Panay, Philippines Dagsaw Panay-Guimaras Indigenous Peoples Network, Philippines Banana Chips Planters and Workers Association, Philippines Fair Trade Foundation Panay, Philippines Fisheries and Marine Environment Research Institute, global Jalaur River for the People’s Movement, Philippines KARAPATAN-Negros · KARAPATAN-Panay, Philippines Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Philippines National Union of People’s Lawyers, Philippines Oikos Ecological Movement, Philippines Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras, Philippines Panay Fair Trade Center, Philippines People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea Philippines Sugar Workers Solidarity-Negros, Philippines Promotion of Church People’s Response, Philippines SELDA, Philippines Sine Panayanon, Philippines Philippine Task Force for Indigenous People’s Rights, Philippines TUMANDUK, Philippines Third World Health Alliance, global Mandacaru Onlus, Italy Hannah Wolf, Germany Jude Mangilog, Philippines Ma. Arve Bañez, Philippines Mar Anthony Balani, Philippines./PT