Group reiterates call to halt Jalaur Dam Project implementation

Agham press release

5 August 2014

Scientist group Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) reiterates its recommendation that construction of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Phase II (JRMPP) be stopped on questionable social and geological grounds as revealed in the investigation missions conducted by the organization in 2012 and 2014.

In the July 2014 Agham study, it was confirmed that there were lapses in the conduct of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, a requisite for development projects within ancestral domains of indigenous peoples. Also,

risks and possible negative impacts were still not addressed and were not communicated to the stakeholders.

In the September 2012 study, Agham found that project proponent National Irrigation Authority (NIA) failed to establish, based on detailed geological mapping and subsurface investigations, how possible natural hazards will affect the dam, particularly with regards to the stability of the structure and its foundation. Geologic hazards such as earthquakes can pose dangers to the dam that may cause massive flooding to nearby communities.

“Transparency and complete disclosure of all the aspects of the project is especially crucial as the affected community include those of the Tumandoks, whose culture and way of life would be drastically affected in all the phases of the Jalaur Dam Project implementation,” said JM Ayuste, biologist, Education Officer of Agham.

Ayuste was part of the team who conducted interviews last month which was participated by Tumandoks from different barangays that would be directly affected by the project

“The NIA was not transparent in the process of FPIC and the feasibility study. According to the Tumandoks we interviewed, possible negative impacts of the project to the community were not disclosed,” said Ayuste

Ayuste continued, “The memorandum of agreement for the feasibility study was signed without the knowledge of community members. After the feasibility study was completed, the results were not even presented to the whole community for confirmation.”

“The proponents also allegedly promised free education, free medication and jobs for the Tumandoks in return of their consent. This is clearly a violation of the FPIC procedure as there is an element of bribery in this,” said Ayuste.

During the construction of access roads, one Tumandok was promised P13,000 as compensation for his trees and crops that were destroyed. He signed a document attesting his receipt of the said amount but was surprised when he found out that the check he received was worth only P400. Interviewers also claim that the jobs promised by NIA did not materialize.

The group cites the results of an earlier environmental investigation mission which point to potentially adverse geological conditions for dam construction and operation at the site.

“One of the major threats that should be a very strong basis for the reconsideration of the Jalaur dam construction is that it sits on an area with a series of faults and fractures. The presence of several faults is not mentioned in the reports of NIA,” said Warner Carag of Agham and member of the Technical Team that conducted a baseline study on the area where the JRMPP II shall be located.

With all the unresolved environmental and social issues, Agham is questioning why the project has been approved in the first place.

Corruption and financial issues also surfaced when it was found out that the dam was also partly funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that has been recently declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The Jalaur dam is a joint project of Korea and the Philippines amounting to P11.212 B. The P450M of P2.2B counterpart of the Philippine government is sourced from DAP while the Export Import Bank of Korea is to provide the P8.95B as loan.

“Given that issues surrounding JRMPP still stand, it should be imperative for the government to halt the activities involved in the construction, prioritize a comprehensive review of all the processes that the project should have gone through and ensure that the scientific, environmental and socio-cultural impacts of the project are addressed,” ended Ayuste.

Reference:

JM Ayuste, biologist, Education Officer Agham, 09068072964.

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