Position Paper Against the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Peasants
dam-pamatukan

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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Comments
  1. Roselio says:

    How does the whole ILONGO people take the devastating effect of El Ninio in their life when there is the scarcity of water that help grow their food such as rice and the wssater they need to function easily in their life if these water commodity is readily available?

    • panaytoday says:

      By damming the rivers, the contractors are actually depriving the lowlanders their water resource by drying their rivers. Water for the upland are readily available and fresh, while in the lowland, a more comprehensive action plan must be taken to deliver services such as irrigation to our farmers and potable water supply to the consumers.

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