International Solidarity Mission on Panay mega dam launched

ILOILO City – The Jalaur River for the People’s Movement (JRPM), an alliance composed of environmental advocates, peoples’ organizations, church people, members of the academe and indigenous people’s organizations, is launching an International Solidarity Mission on the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMP2) or the Jalaur mega dam this weekend, July 16-18, 2016.

In a statement released by the JRPM, the activity, dubbed the International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission to Panay (IFFSM-Panay), aims to complement the efforts to broaden the support from the international community and place strong pressure on the Philippine and Korean governments and Korean Export-Import (Exim) bank to stop the construction of the Jalaur mega dam project.

“The IFFSM-Panay will conduct roundtable discussions on the current updates regarding the campaign against the Jalaur mega dam, on-site visit in one of the communities affected by the construction of the dam, focused group discussions and key informant interviews on-site, resolution making, and presentation of the IFFSM findings,” the group’s spokesperson Mary Grace Lobaton said.

Some of the issues the mission will investigate includes the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) approval of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) despite non-consent by the tumandok indigenous peoples (IP) of Central Panay.

“The project will directly affect 16 IP communities, 9 of which will be totally submerged. We will likewise look into reports of repressive tactics that violate human rights and employment of deceit and bribery by the government agencies and state security forces in order to coerce tumandok community leaders and residents opposed to the project,” Lobaton added.

Special Action Forces have been reportedly deployed in the area around the dam construction site.

“The mission will furthermore scrutinize insufficient and deceitful environmental impact assessments especially related to earthquakes, flooding and ecological impacts of the project as well as the use of PHP450 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as source of funding for the mega dam,” she added.

Thirty barangays, 8 barangays from Passi City and 22 from Calinog City, have been identified as crash areas while 25 towns from Iloilo Province within the Jalaur River Basin have likewise been found to be most vulnerable to massive flooding. Meanwhile, more than 1.2 million people in Iloilo City will be made vulnerable to flooding.

“The main infrastructure will be located 11 kilometers from the active Western Panay Fault which caused the strongest and most destructive earthquake in Panay Island in 1948. This fact led to feasibility study recommendation by the Korean Exim Bank for the conduct of further studies regarding the foundation of each dam based on an earthquake’s most destructive magnitude,” Lobaton elaborated.

Since 2012, tenacious opposition and mobilizations which combined grass root mass actions, legal and court actions, alliance work and lobby work forced the delay of the construction of the main structure from April to November of this year.

“The solidarity mission forms part of the efforts to intensify the campaign against the construction of the Jalaur mega dam through mass actions, lobby work, legal battles and broadening of international support,” Lobaton ended./PT


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