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Government haste in Jalaur Megadam construction is reckless, tramples on people’s rights — IP Network

ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES — This is Dagsaw-Panay-Guimaras Indigenous People’s Network’s  (Dagsaw PGIPnet)  response to the current haste of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Calinog Mayor Alex Centena in pushing for the immediate construction of the Jalaur River megadam, nothwithstanding unresolved legitimate issues raised against it.

“The issues are clear.  There is real danger of a dam failure based on experts study of the project.  This alone is reason enough for the further study of JRMP-II.  The people’s right to participate in deliberation of ‘development projects’ that will affect them was also violated.”, declared Dagsaw Executive Director Cynthia A. Deduro.

NIA lied about the presence of an active fault line in the project area – the West Panay Fault. This lie was clearly stated in NIA’s final report to the Korea Exim Bank on November 2011.  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. It generated a tremor of intensity 8.2 which caused damage to 55 churches, 17 of which were totally damaged.

When the truth about the presence of the active West Panay Fault was known to the public, the NIA and Senator Drilon lamely reasoned that the fault line is 11 kilometers away from the project site, thus, the mega dam project is safe.   The impact of  the February 6, 2012 earthquake of intensity 6.8  triggered by the tectonic movement of the fault in Central  Negros — belies Senator Drilon’s assertion that the Jalaur dam project is safe because it is 11 kilometers away from the active West Panay Fault.  The epicenter of the earthquake at in Central Negros  is 78 kilometers away from Iloilo which experienced an intensity 5 tremor.  Intensity 4 was also felt in Antique and Capiz. This tremors damaged  about 20 establishments in Iloilo City, the worst of which is the Iloilo Hall of Justice , a Drilon project.

On October 15, 2013 a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Central Visayas, killing at least 222 people  damaging property – including historic structures – across the region. Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum had said that the 7.2-magnitude ground shaking has an energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs. The  epicenter  of the earthquake in Inabanga town is around  44 kilometers from  Loon, Bohol which was  among the worst affected.

Dr. Ricarte S. Javelosa PhD, first Filipino geomorphologist and former supervising geologist of the DENR opined that “the defence of the proponents of the JRMPII for the seismicity of the is highly  irresponsible…”. Nobody predicted the catastrophic October 2013 Bohol earthquake.  The new fault line in Inabanga, Bohol which was the epicenter of the latest Bohol earthquake showed strong affinity with the “fault line and traces” identified in 1994.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) noticed ground rupture in Barangay Anunang, Inabanga in the devastated Bohol province that served as a surface representation of a fault underneath.

Similar “fault lines and traces” are found criss-crossing the JRMP-II.

The NIA secretly conducted  a  study  in 2009 on the feasibility of building a megadam 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 Eximbank.   NIA  only conducted  consultations  among the  affected communities from  January to May 2012, two  months  after submission of the final feasibility study.  This is a very clear case of “the cart before the horse”.

While high government officials had finalized plans for JRMP-II, LGUs in the downstream areas of Jalaur  river were only informed about the project in August 2013..  Residents downstream of the project are not informed of the dangers inherent to the megadam and are enticed with its so-called benefits.

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