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News Release
September 27, 2014

“Ang mga dambuhalang dam – Laiban (Rizal), Jalaur (Panay), Balog-balog (Tarlac), Pulangi Dam V (Bukidnon), Baco – ay banta sa aming buhay at lupang ninuno.”

TAYTAY, Rizal – Indigenous peoples Dumagat and Remontado (Rizal and Quezon), Manobo-Pulangyon (Bukidnon) and Tumandok (Panay), call to stop ALL mega dam constructions on IP lands.

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“These development aggressions by the BS Aquino regime is a threat to our lands, life and rights to self-determination,” said Arnel Delos Santos, a Dumagat whose lands will be wiped out by the Laiban dam in Rizal province.

“We our nothing without our lands. We will die for our lands,” he said.

The IP tribes gathered in a three-day National Forum on Laiban Dam and other Mega Dams last September 24-26 which was sponsored by the Philippines Task Force on Indigenous People’s Rights (TFIP).

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“Indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains have been hosts, albeit by force, intimidation, and deceit, to large-scale, multi-purpose dams. These dams, which the government has peddled to be indispensable for national development, caused the displacement of indigenous peoples from their territories, and destroyed their homes, sources of livelihood and sacred sites. Further, due to displacement, indigenous groups, especially those who have migrated and settled in other areas, experience a worsening socio-economic conditions and erosion of their culture,” TFIP said in the concept note for the forum.

“Though touted as essential to meet the water and power requirements in urban areas and irrigation water for vast farms in rural areas, these dams, such as Binga, Ambuklao, San Roque and Magat in Luzon and Pulangi in Mindanao, have primarily benefited big industries, like mining and plantations. Power and water rates are in an all-time high and poor farmers cannot keep up with the rising costs of irrigating their farmlands,” the task force said.

For the tumandoks from Panay, “the Jalaur mega dam will displace 17,000 tumandoks and our culture, lands, and cultural identity will be lost,” Roy Giganto, former TUMANDUK chairperson said.

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Tumandok leader Roy Giganto delivers situationer on Jalaur River Multipurpose Project – Stage II (JRMP2).

“The Pulangi Dam V will affect 32 barangays from Bukidnon, all IP villages. The project will never benefit us but instead, will kill us,” Datu Nilo of Save Pulangyon Tribe alliance said.

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Datu Nilo, a Manobo-Pulangyon from Bukidnon, shares his tribe’s struggle against Pulangi Dam V.

The participants was joined by from the sectors of youth and students, church people, partylist groups, and other peoples organizations.

The activity also became a platform for the creation and launching of the Protect Sierra Madre (PSM) Alliance as a mechanism for the wider opposition and sustained engagement of peoples against the Laiban Dam.

It also forged unity among IPs to consolidate its ranks and intensify campaigns and struggles for the protection and preservation of IPs and their lands.

Nicanor “Ka Kano” Delos Santos, a Dumagat killed in December 8, 2001 during then President Gloria Arroyo’s time, was given tribute for his undying, persistent and vigorous struggle for the welfare of the Dumagats and Remontados.

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His kids and wife vowed to continue his legacy and journey until freedom is achieved.

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The activity concluded with a protest-action in time of the Sierra Madre day on September 26 in Mendiola.###

For more details and pictures, please see No to Jalaur Mega Project FB page and Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights FB.

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‘Even the unsinkable Titanic sank’

Posted: September 22, 2014 in Peasants

ILOILO City – The Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM) lambasted the Jalaur mega dam proponents’ statement that “only terror attacks can destroy” it.

“When the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) declared dam can only be destroyed by a terrorist attack similar to 9/11, I almost fell on the floor. The arrogance of the statement and the sheer lunacy of the proponents are unimaginable,” said the group’s spokesperson, Mary Grace Lobaton.

The 9/11 refers to terrorist attacks launched by the terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Four passenger airliners were hijacked so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes were crashed into the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Both towers collapsed.

NIA boasted that only a terrorist attack in a scale similar to the one that destroyed the World Trade Center can make the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project – Phase II (JRMP-II) collapse.

“Have they not read and learned from history? The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg! The builders then were so enthusiastic that they have built the only unsinkable ship in the whole world and in its maiden voyage, they were proven otherwise,” said Lobaton.

“RMS Titanic” was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage carrying 2,224 passengers and crew from Southampton, United Kingdom to New York City, USA.

The sinking killed over 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

“Another disaster was the Vaiont (Vajont) Dam in Italy, one of the tallest in the world. It created massive landslides that produced waves overtopping the reservoir by more than 100 meters. It caused a flashflood in the downstream town of Longarone, drowning 2,000 inhabitants within a handful of minutes,” said Lobaton.

At 261.6 meters in height, the thin concrete arch Vajont Dam, on the Vajont River in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia a few dozen meters above its border with Veneto, was the tallest dam in the world at the time of its completion in 1959.

Despite opposition from the local residents and findings of separate studies of the dam’s reservoir being unstable and liable to collapse should the reservoir be filled, the contractor still proceeded.

“We don’t want these disasters to happen to our indigenous peoples and the entire Ilonggos. Previous studies have already showed that the area where the dam is to be built has questionable integrity. But NIA is so omniscient, denied all allegations and proceeded without caution,” said Lobaton.

In September 2012, three scientists – a geologist, a botanist and a physicist – from the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People found faults along the Jalaur River at the site of the dam main reservoir.

“There were mass wastings, rockfalls and soil erosions – as indicated by the presence of talus and daylighting joints, rock falls and landslides – and faults in the area showing unstable foundation and questionable integrity of the dam sites,” said Adong Fernandez, a registered geologist and a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

JRPM, an advocacy alliance for the protection and promotion of the Jalaur River as a life source of the people, is composed of the indigenous group TUMANDUK, farmers groups, church leaders and different religious denominations, students and professionals, militant organizations and other civil society organizations in Panay./PN

Published in Panay News, September 23, 2014

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As early as October 2011, Panay-bukidnon IPs have aired their opposition to the mega dam during their 8th Tumandok assembly held at WVSU-Calinog Campus, Calinog, Iloilo.

THE Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMPII) was mentioned by President Aquino in his 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA) as one of the major priority projects of his administration. The project, which highlights the construction of a 106-meter high mega dam as the main infrastructure — is aggressively promoted by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Senator Franklin Drilon and President Aquino as a major agricultural project that will enhance the government’s program of rice sufficiency, help solve the water crisis in Metro Iloilo and augment the energy needs of Iloilo.

The Project is envisioned to provide:

a) year-round irrigation water to an estimated 31,840 hectares of agricultural land that include the rehabilitation of 22,340 hectares service area covered by the five (5) existing irrigation systems in the Province of Iloilo,
b) generate about 6.6 Megawatts of hydro-electric power, and
c) supplement the supply of water for domestic and industrial use for the seven (7) nearby municipalities including Iloilo City.

Other incidental benefits consist of flood mitigation (flood control) to address recurring destructive floods in the province and promote eco-tourism development in the Dam/Reservoir area. Further, it would generate thousands of employment opportunities towards economic enhancement of Iloilo people particularly the project-affected-families, stakeholders and other beneficiaries of the Project.[ Main Report for the Feasibility Study on Jalaur River Multipurpose Project-Stage II to the Korea Eximbank, submitted by NIA on November 2011]

However, a careful study of the avowed advantages and disadvantages of the project, we, the undersigned, are of the opinion that JRMPII brings more negative impact than benefits to affected communities and the Filipino people as a whole.

MAJOR ISSUES:

Violation of the indigenous people’s right to give or deny consent to development projects in areas considered as their ancestral domain

The NIA secretly conducted a study in 2009 on the feasibility of building a mega dam in the indigenous peoples area of Brgy. Agcalaga, Calinog along the Jalaur River, without consultation with affected communities. On November 2011, the NIA submitted its final feasibility study to the Korean Eximbank¹. NIA only conducted consultations among the affected communities on January until May 2012, two months after submission of the final feasibility study. This is a very clear case of “the cart before the horse”. As a result of the so-called consultations, the indigenous peoples elders signed a Memorandum of Agreement on May 31, 2012 allowing the NIA to conduct a survey and data gathering in preparation for a feasibility study of which a Certification Precondition for the conduct of feasibility study was issued by NCIP on July 12, 2012.

The Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process for the data gathering was violated. The consent was not “free” because reliable information from affected communities reveal that the NIA is engaged in “giving incentives” through menial job hiring of people who resist or are reluctant to give consent to the project. There was no “prior” consultations because the final feasibility study was already submitted before the FPIC process was conducted. Neither was the consent “informed” because the NIA discussed only the supposed advantages of the project but kept from the people, information about the dangers and negative impacts such as the existence of the active West Panay fault and that several communities will be submerged in water.

Danger posed by the West Panay Fault

The JRMPII dam site is only eleven kilometers away from the West Panay fault.
The NIA lied in its final report to the Korea Eximbank where it stated that: “The project area contacts with Panay fault along Antique range on the west and another thrust fault runs parallel to Panay fault. But, these faults are inactive and have no vestiges of movement.”[ 5.1.6. Review on Earthquake-resistance, page 58. Op. cit. ] This is a blatant lie. A quick check of the Phil. Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) website will reveal that the West Panay Fault is listed as one of the active trenches and faults in the country.[ http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph%5D

The West Panay Fault caused one of the most catastrophic earthquakes in the country. The magnitude 8.2 “Lady Caycay” Earthquake and Tsunami of January 25, 1948 in west-central Philippines is the second biggest earthquake in the 500-year old Philippines earthquake history. According to archives and catalog, 55 Spanish-era churches in Panay Island were damaged, 17 of which totally collapsed. Two persons were said to have drowned along Iloilo Strait because of tsunami.[ The 1948 (Ms 8.2) Lady Caycay Earthquake and Tsunami and Its Possible Socio-economic Impact to Western Visayan Communities in the Philippines, a paper presented by M.L.P. Bautista, B.C.Bautista, I.C. Narag, R.A. Atando & E.P. Relota at the Ninth Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering Building an Earthquake-Resilient Society 14-16 April, 2011, Auckland, New Zealand]

High risk of landslide in the dam project site

On December 12, 2006 the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 6 (MGB-6) geo-hazard assessments[ Mines and Geosciences Board, Region VI Geohazard Assessment, December 12, 2006] identified Calinog town as one of the 11 municipalities that are highly prone to landslides.

The JRMPII project site for its mega dam is situated in a landslide-prone area of Calinog. Aside from heavy siltation because of the denuded watershed, the mega dam is in danger of being clogged with rocks and huge amount of soil and fallen trees during landslides which may be triggered by earthquakes or unusually heavy rains.

This may cause the malfunction or shorten the lifespan of the Jalaur mega dam, which was not factored in by NIA in its feasibility study.

Dislocation of indigenous people

The project will inundate nine barangays (villages) upstream of the planned mega dam[ Required Documents for FPIC Application, submitted by the NIA to the Office of the Commission on Indigenous Peoples Region VI and VII, July 8, 2013]. An estimated 17,000 Tumandok (indigenous people) will be displaced. The indigenous peoples will lose their lives, source of livelihood, heritage and culture.

The government does not have a clear plan where the displaced families will be relocated and no definite alternative sustainable source of livelihood for the affected community.

Limited number of irrigated areas to benefit from JRMPII

According to the objectives of the project, only 9,500 hectares[ Ibid.] of rain-fed rice lands will be added to the 22,340 hectares already serviced by the existing five irrigation systems. This number of additional areas which will be irrigated is too small to justify the huge public spending of Php11.2 billion for the construction of the mega dam project.

In addition, the JRMPII plans to divert huge volume of water from Jalaur River into other irrigation systems which will service the rapidly urbanizing areas of the municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Pavia and Leganes. What is the wisdom of irrigating areas with high rates of conversion of agricultural lands into real estate, industrial and commercial areas? This is a gross waste of limited public funds.

The dam will aggravate flooding

The unprecedented floods caused by Typhoon Quinta last December 2012 proved that dams aggravate flooding. Residents of Passi City and Dueñas attest that their areas experienced heavy floods before the Dingle Moroboro dam released water downstream. It only subsided when the dam opened its floodgates. But after the floodgates were opened; the municipalities of Pototan, New Lucena, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Zarraga and Leganes were submerged in water for several days. The Moroboro dam is only 44 meters high. Imagine a 106 meter Jalaur mega dam releasing through its floodgates several times (364 Million Cubic Meters ) the volume of water that Moroboro dam holds. What will happen to the towns and city downstream of the mega dam?

Aggravating the Country’s Debt Problem

The JRMP2 budget of Php11.2billion will be funded by public money because no private concessionaire is willing to share with the government the cost of the main infrastructure of the project – the 106 meter high dam. The Php8.9B loan from the Korea Eximbank through the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) is payable by public funds. This means that the people will shoulder the total cost of constructing the mega dam, and then offer to private concessionaires the further development and operation of the whole JRMPII.

The loan from Korea Eximbank will add to the present Php5.684 trillion on external debt of the country as of October 26, 2013, with every Filipino having a debt of Php61,733.00[ Ping bares PNoy govt’s ‘ugly side’, Christine F. Herrera | Manila Standard Today.Com Posted on October 26, 2013] .

Privatization of water resources

The report of NIA to the Korea Eximbank is revealing. “The Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) has been developed to provide the required water resources to farm lands and to supply electric power and raw water. Government and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) try to introduce PPP Scheme for JRMP to achieve private investment and efficient operation skills.”[ Chapter 12: PPP Scheme, NIA’s Main Report for the Feasibility Study on Jalaur River Multipurpose Project-Stage II to the Korea Eximbank, November 2011]

The worn-out belief that the private sector is inherently efficient compared to government agencies, falls flat on its face with the recent experience of the failed PPP bulk water scheme of the MIWD with the private bulk water supplier consortium led by Flo-Water.

Water is part of our national patrimony that, giving private concessionaires control over it is selling out a very important resource not only of today’s generation but also of future generations. Profit is the controlling motive of private concessionaires, not the common welfare.

SUMMARY OF ISSUES AND ALTERNATIVES TO THE JRMPII

To summarize, we oppose the JRMPII because:

It poses great danger to the lives and livelihood of affected communities upstream and downstream of the project.

It violates the indigenous people’s right to give or deny consent to projects in their ancestral domain and dislocates a big number of indigenous families .

The tremendously large amount of public capital investment does not justify the avowed benefits and is fraught with risks.

It plans to privatize water, a very important common resource which is part of our national patrimony.

The Php11.2billion investment in the JRMPII will be better used to:

Build small dams and rehabilitate existing irrigation systems which are less risky.
Provide assistance of farm inputs, equipment and credit facilities to farmers.
Rehabilitation and improvement of flood control measures in flood prone areas.

We support the Bayan Muna House Resolution No. 323 titled RESOLUTION FOR THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES TO CONDUCT AN ONSITE INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE VIABILITY AND DISASTER VULNERABILITIES OF THE JALAUR RIVER MULTIPURPOSE PROJECT STAGE II (JRMP), TO BE SITUATED ON TOP OF THE WEST PANAY FAULT WHICH IS AN ACTIVE FAULT AND THUS THREATENS THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD OF THE PEOPLE AND OTHER AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN THE EVENT OF A MAJOR DISASTER, filed on September 24, 2012. ###

Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS)
Tumandok nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi (TUMANDUK) Inc.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay
Dagsaw Panay-Guimaras Indigenous Peoples’ Network (PGIPNET)
Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR) – Panay
Bayan Muna – Panay
Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM)
Oikos Ecological Movement

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“When NIA declared dam structure can only be destroyed by something like the 9/11 terrorist attack, I almost fell on the floor. The arrogance of the statement and the sheer lunacy of the proponents is beyond me.”

ILOILO City, Philippines – The Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM) lambasted dam proponent’s statement that “only terror attacks can destroy mega dam” as arrogant.

“When NIA declared dam structure can only be destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attack, I almost fell on the floor. The arrogance of the statement and the sheer lunacy of the proponents is unimaginable,” the group’s spokesperson Mary Grace Lobaton said.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) boasted last week in their press statement that “only a terrorist attack in a scale similar to the one that destroyed the World Trade Center in the US on September 11, 2001 can make the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP-II) collapse.”

“Have they not read and learned from history? The “unsinkable” Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg! The builders then were so enthusiastic that they have built the only unsinkable ship in the whole world and in its maiden voyage, they were proved otherwise,” Lobaton said.

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage carrying 2,224 passengers and crew from Southampton, UK to New York City, USA. The sinking of Titanic caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.*

“Another disaster was the Vaiont (Vajont) Dam in Italy, one of the tallest in the world, that created massive landslides that produced waves overtopping the reservoir by more than 100 meters causing a flashflood in the downstream town of Longarone, drowning 2,000 inhabitants within a handful of minutes,” Lobaton added.

At 261.6 m (862 ft) in height, the thin concrete arch Vajont Dam, on the Vajont River in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia a few dozen metres above its border with Veneto, was the tallest dam in the world at the time of its completion in 1959. Despite opposition from the local residents and findings of separate studies of the dam’s reservoir being unstable and liable collapse should the reservoir be filled, the contractor still proceeded.**

“We don’t want these disasters to happen to our indigenous peoples and the entire Ilonggos. Previous studies have already showed that the area where the dam is to be built has questionable integrity. But NIA is so omniscient, denied all allegations and proceeded without caution,” Lobaton added.

In September 2012, three scientists – a geologist, a botanist and a physicist – from the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), in their Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) found faults along the Jalaur River at the site of the dam main reservoir.

“There were mass wastings, rockfalls and soil erosions – as indicated by the presence of talus and daylighting joints, rock falls and landslides – and faults in the area showing unstable foundation and questionable integrity of the dam sites,” said Adong Fernandez, a registered geologist and a graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

JRPM, an advocacy alliance for the protection and promotion of the Jalaur River as a life source of the people, is composed of the indigenous group TUMANDUK, farmers groups, church leaders and different religious denominations, students and professionals, militant organizations and other civil society organizations (CSOs) in Panay.

– 30 –

Reference: Mary Grace Lobaton
Spokesperson, Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM)
Contact No.: (+63) 0906 686 9999(+63) 0906 686 9999

—————
* <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Titanic&gt;
** <http://basementgeographer.com/the-vajont-dam-disaster/&gt;

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Panay-bukidnon tribe raised their opposition to the Jalaur mega dam of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) saying their land, lives, and livelihood will be gone once the dam is built. – Photo by: PAMANGGAS

ILOILO City, Philippines – Indigenous peoples under TUMANDUK (Indigenous Farmers in Defense of Land and Life) organization held a picket last February 26 in front of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) office at Barangay Tacas, Jaro, Iloilo City in opposition to the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP2), aka Jalaur mega dam project.

Numbering around 60 individuals, the group was joined by members of Panay and Guimaras wide peasant alliance PAMANGGAS, women group GABRIELA, urban poor settlers KADAMAY, all under the Panay wide alliance of BAYAN-Panay.

“We do not need the dam. What will be left of us when our areas are submerge in waters? Where do we live? What will we plant on waters? And how do we live when our life, culture and livelihood is already gone?,” cried Reynaldo Giganto, a TUMANDUK council member.

According to Giganto, the project is never and will never favor the indigenous peoples. “The offered 17,000 jobs are just temporary. After that, what is left of us is our land floating on waters.”

“And if the jobs come, what jobs are we getting but solely odd jobs like masonry, carpentry, and other low-paying jobs that need not college or high school education,” he added.

On her part, Marevic Aguirre, TUMANDUK chairperson, said that NIA has consistently hide, limit information and even distort it in favor of their personal interests.

“In their Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) or in any other meetings, they (NIA) never discussed the issue that tumandok areas will be submerged. But in their submitted feasibility study report to the Korean Export-Import Bank in November 2011, it indicated submerged areas.”

The administration’s counter arguments were heard yesterday afternoon after the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan in October 2013. The high court found the petitioner’s case of former Cong. Augusto Syjuco Jr, “sufficient in form and substance”.

Respondents in the petition were the officials from NIA, NCIP, DENR, NEDA, DA, DAR, DPWH and Sen. Frank Drilon, among others.

“While this office is steady-strong in pursuing the project, they will also expect strong and growing opposition not just from us tumandoks, but the entire Ilonggo and Filipino people as well,” Giganto ended.

The hearing made a recess after more than an hour of counter argument presentation. The proponent’s group even tried to nullify and dismiss the case but the Court of Appeals stand by its decision that the petitioner’s case remains legitimate.

The hearing will resume on March 14 in a debate exercise of both sides.###

ILOILO City, Philippines – Despite the harvest season, indigenous people, Tumandok, in Tapaz, Capiz are still experiencing hunger because subsistence farming only provides small produce and that recent military encounters  hinder them from their daily economic activities.

The Tumandok practices slash-and-burn or kaingin farming. They plant bisaya or traditional rice such as malido and milagrosa on inclined parts of the mountain only once a year.

Hunger experienced by the Tumandok people is felt everyday for the rest of the year. Alternative cash and root crops are insufficient for their daily needs. The typhoon Quinta that hit their area in December 2012 resulted to 70-90 percent destruction of their crops due to landslides and mudslides. Recovery is slow and painful without government support.

With military operations in the area, the Tumandok people’s economic activities have decreased and security measures are heightened causing fear and discomfort for the communities and have stopped them from working in their kaingin.

Meanwhile, a strafing incident occurred last October 7, 2013 in Barangay Nayawan, Tapaz, Capiz,  involving elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion killing farmer Pastor Mirasol Jr. and wounded Rolando Diaz. Peasant group PAMANGGAS condemns the actions of the government troops.

TUMANDOK RESISTANCE

“The strafing incident only shows that the Army would do anything in order to suppress the depressed situation of the tumandoks who have long been opposing the settlement of Camp Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, a 33,310 hectare ancestral land to the Tumandok people,” said PAMANGGAS secretary general Cris Chavez.

Land-grabbing in the Philippines is systemic in nature that even the government has allowed, permitted and even performed the process of land-grabbing to pave way investments in the form of development aggressions. Instead of helping the indigenous farmers from their misery and poverty, the Philippine government has been instrumental to further the Tumandok people’s depressed situation to the point of killing them. The army reservation limited the farming grounds, and hunting areas of the Tumandok.

Camp General Macario B. Peralta Jr. of the 61st IB PA is home to more than seventeen thousand tumandoks. The camp was reserved under presidential proclamation number 67 of then President Diosdado Macapagal in 1962 covering about 32 barangays of the municipalities of Jamindan and Tapaz in Capiz.

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HUNGER AND LAND REFORM

PAMANGGAS is ready to stage a mobilization this Wednesday, October 16 to commemorate the World Food(less) Day. PAMANGGAS addressed the hunger and poverty of farmers as a result of the governments negligence and lack of political will to address the chronic problems of farmers to lack of land and food security.

“The CARP and CARPER are the longest, grandest, and poorest-performing agrarian reform program in the country. Since 1972, land monopoly still prevails as exemplified by the Benigno Simeon Aquino III clan’s, the Cojuangco-Aquino, authority of not distributing over the Hacienda Luisita to its legitimate farmer-beneficiaries,” Chavez added.

Compared to its Asian neighbors in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and China, each accomplished land reform in the span of five to ten years with minimal landlord compensation. But for the latest CARPER, roughly 30% has been distributed according to think-tank IBON foundation, a year before the program expires in 2014.

Report of the Department of Agrarian Reform said that landlords are still reluctant and strongly resist to the implementation of the program. But budget has already gone up to Php259.5 billion since 1972 up to 2012 to compensate landowners and land acquisition and distribution expenses.

“This confirms that the program has been written to contain loopholes so that landlords find their legality to deny the agrarian reform implementation,” said Chavez.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Despite their hunger situation, indigenous peoples are still killed and their human rights are violated by state forces themselves who are supposed to protect and serve the unprotected and defenseless.

Mirasol, single, is a farmer-vendor of banana while Diaz is a farmer and a council-member of the TUMANDUK organization. Both were on their way of transporting their banana harvest when an encounter between the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army occurred around 6:45 AM of October 7.

They then seek refuge in the house of Kagawad Abelardo Diaz, which was about one kilometer from the site of the encounter. They were having coffee when the strafing happened around 9:30 a.m., almost three hours after the encounter between government troops and the NPA.

Diaz was trying to relax his strained hips from the work. Mirasol was sitting in front of Diaz. When the strafing began, a bullet struck the right shoulder of Diaz and passed through and hit the left arm of Mirasol. Another bullet instantly killed Mirasol through his head.

The TUMANDUK earlier condemned the attack and belies the Army statement that the two victims were NPA rebels.

“It is a sign of desperation the Army is acting and instead of protecting and serving those unprotected are the ones killing them. We call for justice for our brothers Mirasol and Diaz and the immediate prosecution of military officials who are involved in the event,” said Aileen Catamin, a TUMANDUK council-member. “Human rights violations are rampant with the presence of government troops in the area,” Catamin continued.

Earlier in March 2012, a 6-year old Tumandok girl was killed when Peace and Development Team members of the 61st IB PA Charlie Command propelled an M203 grenade launcher into the house of the family Aguirre in Bgy. Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz.

Rodelyn was playing with her sister Roda 4, when the army launched the rocket that immediately killed Rodelyn and wounded Roda. The army reported  that the girls were playing with an improvised explosive device. But the fact-finding mission of human-rights group KARAPATAN confirmed that the shrapnel that killed Rodelyn and wounded Roda were from an M203.###

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The area where the dam is to be built is questionable due to land and rock structures – daylighting joints, talus, breccia – and also based on the declaration of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) that Calinog is flood and landslide prone area. – Photo by: JI Alenciaga

A Briefing Paper on the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase 2 (JRMPII)
Released by the Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM)
November 2012

The Jalaur Mega Dam and the Lives of the People

Jalaur River is one of the 3 major river basins of the province of Iloilo, with a basin area of 1,742 square kilometers and the 17th largest river system in the Philippines. The river travels 123 kilometers from its source to its mouth in the Guimaras Strait. It drains on the eastern portion of the island and traverses through Passi City, and the towns of Leganes, Zarraga, Dumangas, Barotac Nuevo, Pototan, Dingle, Dueñas, and Calinog1.

I. The Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project

On June 18, 1960, the Philippine government signed into law Republic Act No. 2651, an “act providing the construction of the Jalaur Multipurpose Project (JRMP) in the Province of Iloilo and governing its operation after its completion.”2

From 1977 to 1983 the  JRMP  Phase  1 was funded by the World Bank  for  the rehabilitation of the four  existing national  irrigation systems in Iloilo province (Jalaur, Suage, Aganan & Sta. Barbara ) covering 22,000 hectares  of rice farms.

The next phase, however, did not materialize because the economic internal rate of return (EIRR) based on the studies conducted by the government is “very low and unacceptable.”3

In 2009, NIA Region 6 conducted a Feasibility Study of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage 2. The JRMP Phase 2 is the construction of a mega-dam, with main reservoir standing 102 meters that will contain 197 million cubic meters of water in Barangay Agcalaga, Calinog in the province of Iloilo.  Another 40-meter after bay dam and a 24-meter catch dam will stand following the main reservoir. All 3 dams will situate along Jalaur River. While a 46-meter dam will stand along Ulian River, and 2 catch dams in Tagbacan and Jayubo rivers in the municipality of Lambunao, Iloilo. The construction of the 81-km high line canal will connect the Jalaur and Ulian dams and the 3 catch dams to the 5 existing river irrigation systems.

This dam will directly impact four barangays, totally submerging them: Agcalaga, Masaroy, and Garangan in Calinog and Tampucao in Lambunao town.  Indirectly, it will affect nine more barangays in the upstream areas of the dam.  All thirteen barangays are indigenous people’s communities.

The project aims to “sustain the region’s self-sufficiency and contribute to the annual increase in the country’s rice production target of 7.6%.”4  Specifically it will: (a) provide a year-round irrigation for increased agricultural production to the 22,340 hectares of the 5 existing irrigation systems and 12,000  hectares of currently rain-fed areas, (b) to build a 6.6 megawatt hydroelectric power plant to supplement the power supply in the province,  (c) to augment supply of good quality and potable water for domestic and industrial consumption in the nearby municipalities including Iloilo City, and, to realize other intangible benefits,  (d)  flood mitigation, and  (e) promotion of eco-tourism in selected dam reservoir areas.5

Other expected benefits and opportunities of the project include, generate employment for 17,000 workers during construction, and increased delivery of water supply among others.6

With a total  budget of  Php11.2 billion, Php8.96 billion  ($207.88M)  will be funded thru the  Official Development Assistance (ODA)  of the Korean Government  of which a loan agreement with the Korean Export-Import Bank was  signed last August 9, 2012.7 The amount of Php2.26 billion will be the Philippine government’s counterpart. This is the largest assistance provided by the Korean government to the Philippines through its Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF).

II. Damning the Lives of the People

On the other hand, the construction of the mega dam is not without its negative effects.

Dislocation of communities

The indigenous population of the four barangays that will be submerged and the other affected areas numbering about 17,000 will be dislocated,   threatening their culture, lives and livelihood. There is no clear relocation sites and no concrete and long-term program on how to address said dislocation.

West Panay Fault line

The proposed mega-dam is going to built approximately 11 kilometers away from the West Panay fault line that caused the strongest and most destructive earthquake in Panay in 1948. The said quake damaged 55 Panay-based churches, 17 of which have totally collapsed and 20 beyond repair.9 According to Tumandok IP elders and leaders, some areas in the mountain flattened while landslides and other soil movements occurred in about 10 IP communities. Based on the records of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), another intensity 9 earthquake hit the island of Panay in 1620 that changed the course of Aklan River and damaged stone churches and facades in Passi City. Another earthquake with magnitude 7.1, also hit the island in June 14, 1990 at a depth of 15km with 7 persons perished and 31 others injured10.

Flooding

There is a very great danger that the downstream communities will experience flooding once the dam is constructed.   In the Philippines, flooding caused by the dams is no longer new. The communities in Central Luzon where large dams from the mountains of Cordillera and Rizal are located regularly get flooded during rainy seasons and typhoons.  This is because the operators are inclined to keep higher levels of water as the turbines of the hydroelectric facilities operate better with higher volume of water; but open the floodgates when water volume threatens to break the dam. When the flood gates are opened, it causes flooding in the downstream communities. The scope of flooding is wide and takes a long time, affecting farmlands, houses and roads. The situation is reversed during drought.  As the dam needs higher level of water to operate its turbines and diverts limited water to other river systems, the tendency is to deplete much needed water in the natural downstream water channels of the dammed river(s).

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Rapid Geohazard Assessment document declared areas in the downstream and those near the Jalaur River as highly susceptible to flooding. These areas consist of towns traversed by the river and 25 out of 55 Barangays of Calinog.11

Recently, several dams in Luzon area released waters to prevent possible damage on their facilities and caused massive flooding in several towns of Luzon:

  • August 5,  2012 – Four dams released water to normalize water levels raising alarm to residents of at least 10 municipalities in Pangasinan province which may be submerged in floods12
  • August 6, 2012 – La Mesa dam overflows raising alert level to “red”, which means  communities around and downstream of the dam must evacuate13
  • August 7, 2012 – Luzon dams continue to overflow14
  • In 2011, the 6 dams in Luzon released waters because of typhoon Quiel that caused massive flooding .15

Soil Movements

Based on the MGB Rapid Geohazard Assessment, Barangay Agcalaga, where the mega-dam is to be constructed, is highly susceptible to landslides. Nearby Barangays are also given the same rating16. The Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM), conducted last September 1-2, 2012 at the dam site by a group of scientists from AGHAM (Advocate of Science and Technology for the People), discovered that there are faults along the rocks and suggests that the area is active. Several land and rock falls or mass wasting were also recorded as proof that the area is highly risky to soil movements.

Worsening Debt

The Php8.95 billion loan for the dam project will be an additional debt burden for the Filipino people. The government passes on these debts to the people by raising taxes. Worse, most of the large dam projects in the whole world have an actual high construction costs compared to the original approximations. This is a reality that has to be faced in the continuing increasing prices of construction materials because of the continuing oil price increases and other situations that worsens the economic crises in the world and in the country. The benefits of the dam that is being boasted by the government will not be worth of the disastrous impacts should the dam suffer an accident.

Human Rights Violations

There is an increased presence of the military and police elements in the general area where the dam will be built. This will continue until the actual dam construction. There will be a worsening of violations of human rights and the rights of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain.

The most recent experience that the indigenous people have in the struggle against large dams was the murder of Macli-ing Dulag during the struggle against the Chico Dam in the Cordillera. To date, the local government unit has already started recruiting individuals for the Kabayan Action Group, a watchdog for the dam construction. The municipal mayor himself convinces these individuals and all application forms are personally submitted to him for approval. However, the group is under the DILG-PNP, hence the members are armed. Officials are retired members of the PNP and the AFP. Essentially, the Kabayan Action Group is a paramilitary group that will assist the military in militarizing the project area.

III. The People in Action

World view of Megadams

The Final Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) reiterated that even though large dams display a high degree of variability in delivering predicted water and electricity services and related social services, a considerable portion falls short of physical and economic targets, while others continue to generate benefits after 30 to 40 years (Final Report, WCD, 2000).

The Commission also reported that:

  • Large dams that had been designed for irrigation services have typically fallen short of physical targets, did not recover their costs and have been less profitable in economic terms than expected;
  • Large hydropower dams tend to perform closer to, but still below, targets for power generation, generally meet their financial targets but demonstrate variable economic performance relative to targets, with a number of notable under- and over-performers.
  • Large dams generally have a range of extensive impacts on rivers, watersheds and aquatic ecosystems — these impacts are more negative than positive and, in many cases, have led to irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.
  • The pervasive and systematic failure to assess the range of potential negative impacts and implement adequate mitigation, resettlement and development programmes for the displaced, and the failure to account for the consequences of large dams for downstream livelihoods have led to the impoverishment and sufferings of millions
  • Since the environmental and social costs of large dams have been poorly accounted for in economic terms, the true profitability of these schemes remains elusive.
  • The social groups that bear the social and environmental costs and risks of large dams, especially the poor, vulnerable and future generations, are often not the same groups that receive the water and electricity services, nor the social and economic benefits from these.

In the Philippine experience, the overall impact of large dam projects on the rights of the indigenous communities on their ancestral domain, destruction of the environment, flooding of downstream communities, community relocation, loss of livelihoods and the attendant militarization have only shown that at the heart of these projects is the interest  of the international financial institutions, multinational corporations in construction and energy, local big landlords, bourgeois comprador and corrupt government officials.

As a multimillion- or multibillion dollar-project, the large dam projects ensure the super-profits for the monopoly capitalists. In setting high interest rates in our loans from the IMF, WB, ADB and JBIC for this project, they are also ensuring that their capital continue to accumulate super-profits while economies like the Philippines continue to bleed financially and continue to be dependent on them. Aside from this, the monopoly capitalists ensure that commodity products and services related to dams are sold into the countries where the dams are found. It is not surprising then that the multinational corporations from countries where the loans are taken out also provide the construction firms, construction supplies and machineries, as well as technical personnel for the project.

The local bourgeois comprador, landlords and corrupt government officials are the local partners and conduits of the monopoly capitalists. They facilitate the entry of the projects into the country and the communities, they spin promises of development and benefits for the people and the communities, and through laws, policies, programs and contracts, and they ensure the smooth implementation of said projects. They are also the first to show coercion, employing military and extra-judicial force against the people should their deceptions are exposed.

People’s Struggle

It’s not too late; we can certainly stop the construction of the JRMPII.

As experienced by successful movements against mega-dams, we need a strong grassroots movement, effective advocacy, networking and nationwide and international support.

The government deliberately kept from the public the risks posed by the active West Panay Fault near the Jalaur mega-dam project.  Hence, when this was exposed, the safety of the dam project became a major public issue in Iloilo.  The dangers posed by the fault and the susceptibility of the area to landslides were validated by the Environmental Investigation Mission conducted by scientists from the AGHAM (Scientists for the People) last September 1-3, 2012.

The “Free Prior and Informed Consent” (FPIC) conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) were not truthful.  They enticed the local indigenous people, who call themselves Tumandok with enormous ‘benefits’ of the project, without presenting the grave dangers posed by the active fault and the susceptibility of the area to landslides .

The three barangays in Calinog that will be submerged already have their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles, which according to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA), Article III. Rights to Ancestral Domains, Section 4. Concept of Ancestral Lands/Domains says that:   The indigenous people’s concept of ownership generally holds that ancestral domains are the ICC’s/IP’s private but community property which belongs to all generations and therefore cannot be sold, disposed or destroyed. It likewise covers sustainable traditional resource rights.

However, as information campaigns were conducted in affected communities, more and more indigenous people realized the dangers posed by the dam project to their lives and livelihood.  An increasing number of residents of affected communities upstream and downstream of the project site joined the protest movement against the mega-dam.  Church people, members of the academe, professionals and some local government officials have joined the broad anti-Jalaur dam network, the Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM). The JRPM leads the broad people’s movement against the construction of the Jalaur dam.

Bayan Muna (Partylist) has filed a resolution at the House of Representatives seeking an on-site public hearing on the safety of the Jalaur dam project in the face of the dangers posed by the West Panay Fault.  This is supported by several barangays of affected communities.

National and international support can further strengthen the local people’s movement against the dam.  In particular, solidarity support from the people of South Korea will play an important role in opposing the mega dam project.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

For people’s issues: For peasant issues: For indigenous people’s issues:
HOPE HERVILLA JOHN IAN ALENCIAGA CYNTHIA DEDURO
Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM) hhervilla@yahoo.com Peasant Solidarity in Panay and Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) pamanggas.pesante@gmail.com Panay-Guimaras Indigenous People’s Network (DAGSAW-PGIPNET) dagsaw.pgipnet@gmail.com

 

Endnotes:

1 The Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Stage II, February 2012

2 Republic Act No. 2651, June 18, 1960

3 From Annotated Project Proposal, 2009

4 National Irrigation Administration Regional Office VI. “Project Briefer, Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Stage II.”

5 Ibid

6 Ibid

7 Valencia, Czeriza. “Korea Eximbank lends P8.96B for Jalaur River project.” http://www.sunstar.com, 18 August 2012. <http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=839107&publicationSubCategoryId=&gt;

8 From Annotated Project Proposal, 2009

9 Lena, Perla G. “Solidum urges Western Visayas to prepare for earthquake and related hazards.” www.balita.ph, 9 April 2011. <http://balita.ph/2011/04/09/solidum-urges-western-visayas-to-prepare-for-earthquake-and-related-hazards/>

10 Source: < http://202.90.128.66/1990PanayEQ/index-panay.html>

11 Mines and Geosciences Bureau. “MGB Rapid Geohazard Assessment Results.”

12 Andrade, Jeannette I. “4 Luzon dams release water; flood warning up.” www.inquirer.net, 5 August 2012. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/243139/4-luzon-dams-release-water-flood-warning-up>

13 Kwok, Abigail. “La Mesa Dam overflows, alert level raised to ‘Red’ for evacuation.” www.interaksyon.com, 6 August 2012. < http://www.interaksyon.com/article/39646/la-mesa-dam-overflows-alert-level-raised-to-red-for-evacuation>

14 Mangosing, Frances. “Luzon dams reach spilling levels–Pagasa.” www.inquirer.net, 7 August 2012. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/244339/luzon-dams-reach-spilling-levels-pagasa>

15 Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM). “Briefing Paper on Jalaur Dam.” February 2012

16 Mines and Geosciences Bureau. “MGB Rapid Geohazard Assessment Results.”