WE FEEL ACCUSED, MR PRESIDENT. IN RESPONSE WE SAY: ON THE CONTRARY, YOU ARE THE ONE WORKING AGAINST THE PEOPLE’S INTEREST.

Press Statement

1 August 2014

Mr. President, your State of the Nation Address reveals the insincerity of this government to protect the rights of the indigenous Panay-Bukidnon who are threatened with dislocation by your flagship Jalaur Megadam Project which they vigilantly oppose.

You said, “They (presumably referring to the vigilant IPs and us who support them) oppose the farmers in Iloilo , who have hoped for efficient irrigation systems for more than fifty years, and today are witnessing the construction of the Jalaur Multi-purpose River Project.” As the lawyer representing the IPs in the environmental case to stop the project, I, as well as the National Union of Peoples Lawyers in whose behalf I am handling the case, feel personally affronted. You are now accusing us of working against the interest of the farmers.

Under the IPRA and the UNDRIP, the affected IPs have to consent to the project. Up to this time, there is no consent to build a dam. Why are you talking as if there is? Are we right that you installed military and police detachments within the area to stifle public opposition? There is a pending environmental case to stop the project. Why are you talking as if we will lose it? And why are your tentacles in Iloilo bribing indigenous leaders to consent to the project? Why have you stooped so low?

The Panay region is an island, Mr. President. It cannot host a mega dam. No island in the world hosts a mega dam. And the Panay fault line exists, Mr. President. In 1948 when it was triggered, the very strong Lady Caycay Earthquake, the only earthquake in the world with a name, happened. Your project is a major environmental disaster waiting to happen. Do not create an irreversible tragedy for the people of Iloilo and Capiz. Do not author the genocide of the Panay-Bukidnon people. Be pro-people.

Reference : Cheryl L. Daytec
NUPL Assistant Secretary General for Research

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“By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”

– Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September 15, 2007

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– Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010