Archives | Cordillera | Publications | International Work | Campaigns |Elders Work | Galleries | About Us | Home


March 5, 2008

back to top back to top

Cordillera Peoples Alliance Supports Demands of Displaced Binga Families

The Ibalois displaced by the Binga dam have called on the Benguet Provincial Board to act in their favor. They want that the lands taken away from them when the Ambuklao and Binga Dams were built in the 1950s be returned to them.

This is an opportune time for their demands to be granted. The dams are set to be taken over by SN Aboitiz Power as part of the privatization scheme of the National Power Corporation. These gargantuan infrastructures will be given over to yet another foreign-controlled corporation, which is bound to earn huge profits out of the exploitation of our hydropower resources. Before this happens, the cries of those who sacrificed to make way for the dams' construction should be heeded. Their interests should be protected and their rights should be respected, even if it comes more than fifty years too late.

The ancestral lands of the Ibalois of Ambuklao and Binga were submerged and damaged by the dam construction in the 1950s. The inhabitants of the dam site were forced to settle elsewhere, some as far as Palawan and Conwap Valley in Nueva Vizcaya, where they had to clear and develop the land. Some were twice displaced after the land they had settled on was deemed to belong to other indigenous people or was once again expropriated for government projects.

Resettlement of the displaced Ibalois by the government was never seriously considered, since their land had been classified as watershed and forest reserve. Compensation for lands and properties lost was a recent and mere afterthought, in an attempt to convince other Ibalois to agree to the construction of the San Roque Dam, which was the third megadam to be built along the Agno River. Even then, not all of the displaced families received the compensation they deserved. None were given their lands back, even as the generating capacity of aging dams fell to nearly zero megawatts. In fact, more and more families are losing their lands as the siltation from the dams covers more and more ricefields upstream of the Ambuklao and Binga dams. The families affected by the siltation were never even recognized as displaced or affected people, or legitimate claimants for compensation.

This is a chance for the government officials of Benguet to correct a historical injustice and to show that they stand for the interests of their constituents. It is imperative that the officialdom of the province do the right thing this time around.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance supports the move of the displaced Ibaloi people to reclaim their ancestral land and to assert their rights. We urge the Benguet Provincial Board to act positively on their legitimate demands and to return the land to the displaced families. We salute those who are willing to put the rights and interest of the indigenous people before and above the commercial interests of foreign investors. We stand by the displaced Ibaloi people in their quest for restitution and social justice.

Reference: Santos Mero
Deputy Secretary General
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Copyright © 2004 website content by Cordillera Peoples Alliance,
Website design by Borky Perida