Kalinga farmers reaffirm opposition to hydro power project

By FROILAN WANAGON
www.nordis.net

TABUK CITY — The Timpuyog ti Mannalon ti Kalinga (TMK) a federation of farmers submitted their position paper and petition to the Sangguniang Panlungsod last July 17, 2017 against the revival of the Upper Tabuk Hydro Power Project (UTHP) along the Tanudan River within the ancestral domain of the Minanga Tribe in Barangay Dupag, here.

The position paper was made to counter the letter to the Sanguniang Panlungsod of Tabuk submitted by an alleged Minanga Indigenous Cultural Community seeking endorsement from the City Legislative to pursue the UTHP which was rejected in 2002. It also can be recalled that the proposed UTHP was pursued by the DPJ Engineers and Consultant headed by Eng. Daniel C. Peckley Jr. in 2008 but was opposed and terminated due to the strong opposition of the affected communities and grave violations of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process and other irregularities by the company.

According to some members of peoples’ organizations in the area, some survey gadgets and equipment were brought to the area and which according to them some individuals are being hired to secure the said equipment.

The federation said that the company and their local cohorts are again trying hard to revive and pursue the rejected project by conducting various activities to win and get support from different stakeholders.

The federation also fears the possible effect of dams on the farmers livelihood. “The revival of the proposed UTHP is a big threat to the peasants and their source of livelihood. Farmers and farm workers are directly dependent on the produce from the land they till as means of survival. On the other hand, farmers play an important role in our society as the source of food for the entire community. Thus, affecting their nature of production and may also affect the entire circle of the society” the position further read.

Gloria Pisipis, a farmer in Cabaruan and chairperson of Innabuyog-Kalinga, said in an interview, their community and their rice field always suffer floods during typhoons and heavy rainfalls. Nakaru ti sagsagrapen mi a rigat nu panawen ti panagbabagyo ken napaut a tudo ta malayus ken magaburan dagiti talon mi ken uray pay dagiti balbalay mi, adun tu pay dagiti naanud a dingwen. Kasanun to ngay nu ma-idam iti ngato ket inton agibulos da iti danum, di pay mapunas kamin to ditoy baba? (We suffer much whenever a typhoon comes, and the prolonged rain fall floods our rice fields and covers it with mud, even our houses and livestock have been drowned. How much more if they dam the upper portion and when they release water, we might be wiped out, the woman leader said.

The TMK enumerated in their position paper the possible effects of a hydro power project to the communities in the project site, down and upper streams as to socio-economic, political and cultural aspects. “A development project which is not from the idea and aspiration of the people will surely bring adverse effects to socio-economic, political, cultural and traditions of the people”, says the position paper.

The farmers also fear the possible effects of the dam project to the source of irrigation for the vast agricultural industry of the lower plain of the province and even as far as Isabela province.

The Upper Tabuk Hydro Power project and other dam projects like the Karayan Dam in Barangay Lucog surely poses a big threat to the irrigation supply especially during summer. The TMK also said that during dry season, the water volume from the river reduces, and the hydro power project in order to maintain its operations, must compensate for the low water volume by storing water in its reservoir. Closing the dam spillway gates disturbs the river’s natural flow or worst it prevents the water flow.

Downriver many farmers are so dependent on the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) water supply and many communal irrigation systems are tapped from the Chico river. They will suffer greatly from the lack of water.

We believe that the hydro power project in the guise of “development” will bring unrest to the people not only in the project site but to the entire province. We already witnessed the disunity and conflict among our kailyan in Naneng and Dallac brought by the proposed KARAYAN hydropower project in Brgy. Lucog. The Kalinga people suffered various forms of human rights violations during the Chico Dam project in 1980, a night-mare which we do not want to happen again, the position paper said.

The TMK also calls to the concern agencies and local government units to seriously conduct the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process but not limited to the project site communities/ ICCs but to all impact areas from upper stream down to lower stream. Meanwhile, the federation is conducting consultations and information drives and gathering signature for the petition against the proposed dam project. The petition has 1,161 signatories as of press time.

We believe that there are other alternative means of improving the lives of the people without compromising their land and resources, the TMK reiterated. # nordis.net

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