By FROILAN WANAGON
TABUK CITY — About a hundred participants from different affected communities, youth and advocates signed the declaration of unities to oppose two proposed hydro-electric projects in the province during a forum on hydro-dams held at Tamcpo Inn and Training Center, Appas, Tabuk City last August 12, 2017.
The said forum had a theme “Salakniban ti Tawid a Daga ken Karayan a Kinabaknang! Lapdan dagiti Makadadael a Proyekto dagiti Kapitalista” (Defend our Rich Ancestral Land and Rivers! Oppose Capitalist Exploitation” ).
Daniel Bangibang of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance-Kalinga presented the current burning issues confronting the people of Kalinga, the two proposed dam projects along the Chico and Tanudan rivers aside from other pending applications in other rivers in the province. In his presentation, he enumerated the several attempts of hydro projects and the consistent opposition and on the other hand, the struggle of the Kalinga people. 1970-1980’s – Chico Dam 1-4; 1992 – Tanudan river Dam; 2008-2012 – UTHP (first attempt); 2012-2014 – HEDCORE, Sadanga-Bugnay, Tinglayan (tunnel type); 2013-2014 – SLRB, Mabongtot-Taloctoc (tunnel type); 2014-2015 – HEDCORE, Dacalan, Tanudan (tunnel type); 2014-2016 – AVG-PNOC, Saltan river, Balbalan; 2016-2017 – SLRB-KARAYAN Dam, Chico river, Tabuk (RoR); 2017-UTHEPP (UTHP revival).
According to Bangibang, the capitalist hydro corporations sees the natural resources as profit investment despite the successfully opposed first attempt of building the Chico Dam IV in 1970’s to early 80’s, they still are trying every now and then to build these dams. He also shared an observation in the strategies and tactics of these hydro corporations to manipulate and win the approval of the affected communities by reducing the dam structure and production capacity in their proposed plans, and mince description of Indigenous socio-political systems to make it appear as a community initiative project like the creation of the Minanga tribe to host the UTHP.
This local issue is not different from the whole situation in the Cordillera region. Lulu Gimenez of the Alyansa dagiti Peasnte iti Ta’eng Kordilyera (Apit Tako) Alliance of peasant groups in the Cordillera Homeland presented the locations of awarded hydro projects in the region. There is no province here spared from applications for dam projects. According to her presentation, there are a total of 83 hydro-projects awarded by the Department of Energy for a total of 4,576.94 Mega Watt energy power production. The said hydro power projects are of different types, from Mini hydros, the mega dam base form design and by production capacity. Some are existing dams applied for rehabilitation and development while many of them are new applications.
Gimenez also discussed the effects and implications of large hydro power projects based on various studies and researches of actual experiences of communities and indigenous peoples. She cited the 150 displaced families in Ambuclao, Bokod, Benguet when the Ambuclao dam was built in 1953-56 where the number of displaced families’ increased over the years due to siltation, sedimentation and upstream flooding.
The resource speaker discussed the process of siltation and sedimentation accumulated both in the upper and lower portion of the dam site as well as the flooding of downstream communities during heavy rain fall where the dam had to release water to prevent the structure from collapsing. This caused flush floods in low lying communities like the experience of Pangasinan during typhoon Pepeng in 2009. Gimenez said that sediment flushing from the reservoir is not effective if only the sluice gates and spill ways are opened because it cannot flush what silt is already cemented on the bottom or inner reservoir water bed.
According to her, as of this time there is neither a case nor study to prove effective sluice gates to flush the sediments from a dam reservoir.
Gimenez also discussed the laws on indigenous peoples’ rights like the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and related laws which pertain to energy generation. “Even on the so called Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC) initiated projects, in the true spirit of the law, FPIC must still be strictly observed in all and other affected communities”, she said, as she clarified the rumors that the UTHPP in Dupag is an ICC initiated project by the newly formed Minanga Tribe.
Before Gimenez ended her topic, she quoted Cordillera hero Ama Macliing Dulag who during the Chico Dam struggle said, “If the waters. . .are dammed, who will live in the dammed waters? Crocodiles? Whom will the crocodiles eat? People? I say to you, the question of the dams is not a political one. It is a question of life. What is the most precious thing to people? Life. If life is threatened, what ought the people do? Fight. And this the people must do, otherwise they are dishonored. And that is worse than death.”
From the informative and fruitful input and exchange, the parctipancts finally drew a declaration of unity to again register their consistent opposition, and reiterated their demands in earlier petitions submitted to concerned government agencies.
“We the participants of this forum, citizens who are affected and concerned in the proposal of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Group of Developers (SLRB) through the Karayan Hydro Incorporated in Chico River and the DPJ Engineers and Consultants through the Upper Tabuk Hydro Power Project (UTHPP) in the Tanudan River after we have learned the effects of these hydroelectric power projects in our lives, we express and sign this declaration of unity to oppose and stop them”.
The declaration reads, “These projects are clearly considered as large dams that large dams bring disaster to the life and livelihood of the people. We denounce and condemn the NCIP Kalinga (for) in violating the due process of Free Prior and Informed Consent, and (the) disregard (pannangipaidam) of the right of downstream and upstream communities from (the) FPIC.”
The paper also read, “We also denounce and condemn the use of indigenous socio-political systems such as the bodong and ICC to endorse such destructive projects which is contrary to bodong as a way to protect its boundaries or bugis from exploitation.” # nordis.net