Statement on the Occasion of the International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life
Today, as we commemorate the International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life, we reiterate anew our demand for the ultimate cancellation of all hydropower projects in the Cordillera as these will only bring disastrous impacts to our communities, livelihood and the natural environment. The Cordillera rivers are under attack, with at least 87 hydropower projects awarded by the Department of Energy throughout the region.
We speak from our experience and the lessons we have drawn from the construction and operations of the Ambuklao and Binga dams since the 1950s, and the San Roque mega dam since 1998. The dams were built along the Agno River, which resulted in the displacement of many Ibaloi communities and destruction of peoples’ livelihood and the natural environment. To this day, the San Roque mega dam is causing massive flooding in Pangasinan during heavy rains and strong typhoons, which is why we continue to demand the decommissioning of the San Roque Dam to prevent future catastrophe.
We call for the protection of the Chico River, the “river of life” for the indigenous peoples in Kalinga and Mountain province, from destructive hydropower projects including large dams. The Chico River, the biggest river system in the region which traverses the said provinces, is targeted for a series of at least 12 hydropower projects including big dams that were awarded by the Department of Energy and at least 5 pending hydropower projects. Private companies, including the Karayan Hydropower Corp. owned by Oscar Violago, San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group Inc., Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippine Corp, own these projects.
We demand the respect and recognition of our right to genuine Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The government and private corporations should respect and support communities’ decisions of not allowing the construction of hydropower projects in our lands. In Ifugao province, the communities affected by the 150MW Alimit Hydropower Complex of SN Aboitiz’s (Aboitiz and Norwegian partner SN Power) have once again asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to stop the implementation of the Alimit project in a petition submitted to the regional offices of the DENR and NCIP on February 20, 2019. In Apayao province, members of the Isnag tribe affected by the 150 MW Gened Dam project of the Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippine Corp have expressed non-consent to the project on February 4, 2019.
We reiterate our demand for the outright cancellation of the onerous and anomalous loan agreement between the Philippine government and the government of China for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (CRPIP). The loan agreement is a debt trap which contains provisions whereby China will solely and largely benefit and rake in huge profits from the project while Filipinos will bear the burdensome payment of the high-interest loan and the threat of China’s take-over of our ancestral lands and national patrimony. Further, the project violated our right to FPIC. The CRPIP is a waste of Filipino money since it will not be feasible given the series of hydropower projects upstream of the Chico River, and pending mining and geothermal projects which will source out water from the Chico River for their operations, and more importantly the worsening drought that decreases the volume of water in the Chico River.
In addition to the hydropower projects that threaten our rivers and lives, there are three large-scale mining operations in Benguet that have long been poisoning the rivers yet at least 102 mining projects are under process.
We call on our fellow Igorots to live out our tradition of defending our rivers, lands and resources from plunder and destruction through large dams, large-scale mining and other destructive projects.
No to large dams!
Let the Cordillera rivers flow free!
Junk the CRPIP loan agreement!
Defender our rivers, land and resources!
Secretary General, CPA