Philippine indigenous peoples support struggle against Jalaur dam

Press release –

Philippine indigenous peoples support struggle against Jalaur dam

29 May 2015

TAPAZ, Capiz – After a successful exchange program, 83 indigenous
peoples from different indigenous groups and communities around the
country forged unity to support the Tumandok in opposing the
multibillion Jalaur dam project in Calinog, Iloilo.

“The construction of the Jalaur multi-purpose dam in the territories of
the Tumandok in Central Panay will threaten the livelihoods, culture and
right to land and self-determination of indigenous peoples. Thus, we
unite to support the struggle of the Tumandok opposing the dam,” said
Jill Cariño, convenor of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous
Peoples’ Rights (TFIP). The indigenous peoples exchange program of TFIP
is an opportunity for the indigenous peoples to share their indigenous
knowledge and learn from other indigenous groups’ culture, experiences
and struggles in their respective communities.

The Jalaur multi-purpose project is being implemented by the National
Irrigation Administration and is funded by the Korea Export-Import Bank
(EXIM Bank). This will be constructed along the Jalaur River and will
affect 17,000 Tumandok indigenous people and submerge their communities
in Agcalaga, Masaroy, and Garangan in Calinog.

According to the Tumandok, the right to a free, prior and informed
consent of the indigenous peoples was not respected. They said that the
“elders” who entered into an agreement with NIA giving their consent to
build the dam were deceived, coerced, threatened, and bribed. “The
communities affected must be consulted. Most of us do not want the dam
to enter our communities. We will not allow the dam and will defend our
land for the next generations to come,” Marevic Aguirre, chairperson of
Tumandok, Inc., said.

A statement agreed upon by the IP Exchange participants stated, “Our
rivers are a source of life. We conduct many of our sacred rituals in
the rivers. Thus we should nurture and protect them. Also, the project
site is prone to landslides and is under great risk of earthquakes due
to the West Panay fault. With these adverse effects to the land,
environment and lives of people, the construction of the large dam
should not proceed.”

The participants of the IP exchange are calling on the government and
companies to stop the privatization of rivers and water resources. “We
call on the local government of the Municipality of Calinog and Province
of Iloilo to respect and not to interfere in our indigenous process of
decision making. We urge the NIA to give genuine and free irrigation
services to the farmers including the IPs without sacrificing the lives
of indigenous peoples. We exhort the NCIP to fulfill their mandate in
protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples,” the statement read.

The IP exchange participants further called on the government of South
Korea to stop funding the Jalaur dam project as it will not benefit the
people and cause destruction of the environment. They also urged the
Aquino administration to stop the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam
and other dam projects in indigenous communities.

The IP Exchange 2015 culminated in a cultural exchange between the
indigenous participants, a public forum with media and anti-dam and
indigenous peoples’ advocates in Panay, and a dialogue with the Iloilo
provincial government officials.

Reference: JILL CARINO
Convenor, TFIP
Contact No.: 09189245966
Email: tfip@philtfip.net

MAREVIC AGUIRRE
Chairperson, TUMANDUK Inc.
Contact No.: 09468334542
Email: tumanduk_panay@yahoo.com