Candon City, Ilocos Sur – Hundreds of resident from different barangays of Salcedo joined the Ecumenical Service yesterday, April 26. The mass, officiated by the Salcedo Ecumenical Council, intends to unite them against a planned dam on the Buaya River for the Gregoria del Pilar Impounding Project (GDLIP) of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA). Local government officials from the municipality down to the barangays, led by Mayor Leopoldo Gironella, also participated in the activity.
The project is composed of an 89 meters high main dam with an impoundment area of 245.44 hectares and capacity to hold 86.54 million cubic meters, a 175×80 meters spillway, 11.4 kilometers main canal and 45.61 meters of lateral and sublateral canals. The irrigation facility development also includes service roads and possible power generation based on NIA’s document.
NIA estimates that it will take six years to finish the facility and cost about P3.80 billion based on 2017 price level. When completed, GDLIP will irrigate 5000 hectares of farmlands in Candon City, Galimuyod, Salcedo, Sta. Cruz and Sta. Lucia.
After the mass, officials and church leaders went to Aloha Nui Hotel in Candon City to register their strong and unanimous opposition at the Public Scoping of the project, scheduled on the same day.
Present at the meeting were officials from NIA Region 1, Lichel Technologies, Inc., the third party commissioned by the irrigation agency undertake the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment, National Commission on Indigenous People and representatives from the municipalities that will benefit from the proposed facility.
Mayor Gironella said that he and the town’s officials and residents will not allow the project even if NIA reduce the dam’s height to keep the rivers’ backflow from submerging Barangay Bulala-Leguey in his town.
Atty. Marvin Billigan, head of the National Commission for Indigenus People’s provincial office questioned process undertaken by NIA. He said that the agency violated NCIP’s guidelines for conducting the feasibility study without undergoing the procedure for the free, prior and informed consent of the residents. The said municipalities are recognized domains of the Bago tribe by the commission. # Sherwin De Vera