Stopping a hydroelectric dam

May. 21, 2012
NO TO MEGADAM.  Davao City militants raise their opposition to the Pulangi V hydroelectric megadam when President Aquino was here for the Mindanao Energy Summit.  The megadam, they say, will greatly affect the people, especially peasants and lumads, in Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces.   (davaotoday.com photo by Medel V. Hernani)

NO TO MEGADAM. Davao City militants raise their opposition to the Pulangi V hydroelectric megadam when President Aquino was here for the Mindanao Energy Summit. The megadam, they say, will greatly affect the people, especially peasants and lumads, in Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces. (davaotoday.com photo by Medel V. Hernani)

As the fight against the 300-MW Pulangi V mega-dam project already claimed the life of an advocate, more lives are put in peril.

By  ALEX D. LOPEZ
Davao Today

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Philippines — Opposition to a hydroelectric dam traversing some parts of this province and Bukidnon lingers as advocates mourn the death of one of its defenders.

“Our struggle to thwart the implementation of the 300 Megawatt (MW) Pulangi V mega-dam project will carry on,” Norma Capuyan, chairperson of the Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC), told Davao Today.

Capuyan who also serves as Vice-Chairperson of Save Pulangi Alliance made the statement as she condemned the May 9 killing of Margarito Cabal in Purok 1, Barangay Palma in Kibawe town, Bukidnon province.

Cabal, a local government employee in Kibawe, was a known anti-mega dam advocate.  He was buried on May 14 after a funeral march attended by more than a thousand of his supporters and friends.  His assailants who wore masked and rode motorcycles remain unidentified and scot-free.  The Kibawe police are still investigating the case to determine the latter’s identities and their motives.

Tribe leader Nilo Cabungcal, chair of the Save Pulangi Alliance (SPA), condemned Cabal’s killing in a statement.  SPA described Cabal as a true companion and comrade of the peasants and the indigenous peoples.

“Cabal was known for his role in the struggle against destructive projects.  Since 2000, he’s been fighting alongside Bukidnon peasants and lumads (indigenous peoples) against the construction of hydroelectric mega-dam Pulangi V project,” Cabungcal said.

Kasama chairperson Danilo Menente said they believe that Cabal’s assassination is connected to his advocacy for the peasants and lumads.

Submerging ancestral lands

As the fight against the 300-MW Pulangi V mega-dam project already claimed the life of an advocate, more lives are put in peril.

“About 3,000 hectares of Manobo ancestral lands in President Roxas will be directly affected of the proposed mega-dam project,” ASLPC’s Capuyan said.

In Sitio Tres Kantos, Sundungan village, 27 Manobo families will be evicted from their homes and over 2,000 hectares of ancestral lands will be submerged.  In Sitios Pulange 5 and Tauntong, Lama-lama village, over 100 families will be evicted and more than 1,000 hectares of ancestral lands will be submerged.

Capuyan criticized the leaders of these villages for their approval on the mega-dam project without due consideration to its negative effects to local residents especially lumads and their ancestral lands.

Gov’t claims cheaper power

But proponents of this PHP 33 Billion (USD 0.76B) project claimed such is crucial to Mindanao island’s development.  The project is pushed by the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative in partnership with the Greenergy Development Corporation.

In June 2011, Region 10’s Development Council (RDC-X) under its Infrastructure and Utilities Development Committee endorsed the approval of the mega-dam project.  It was subjected to conditions such as the compliance of all clearances from concerned government agencies particularly the National Commission of the Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

RDC-X also urged the project proponents to secure favorable endorsements from the local government units of Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces.

In 2010, Bukidnon Governor Alex Calingasan openly declared his support to the project citing benefits it could bring to the province such as cheaper power and more investments.  Except for the town of Kibawe, local officials in the municipalities of Damulog, Dangcagan and Kitaotao have already given their approval to the project.

In North Cotabato, the Sangguniang Bayan of President Roxas town already passed a resolution endorsing the mega-dam project.  It was submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  The provincial government has not approved the project yet.

For mining, private business

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza recently reiterated her stance on the exploration and expansion of renewable energy in the country particularly in Mindanao.  She said, the province would only agree to the exploration of renewable energy “if the welfare of the residents is assured.”

“Consumers must not shoulder the excessive increase of power rates,” Taliño-Mendoza said, adding, the “take-or-pay” bilateral contracts and agreements between the power generation and distribution which are now under the control of private businesses and corporations has caused the increase of power rates.

Makabayan-Noth Cotabato said the power issue is greatly connected to the proposed mega-dam project.  It pointed out that power generated from the Pulangi V mega-dam project is intended to the “suppressed demand” of mining companies and other big private businesses in Mindanao and the entire country.

Environmental and cause-oriented groups in North Cotabato, however, do not take this sitting down.  They’ve been calling to oppose the mega-dam project and already asked support from parish leaders in the towns of Arakan, Antipas, President Roxas and New Cebu of the Diocese of Kidapawan.  (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)

  • rg

    Kindly check po the caption sa photo. Thanks. ;]] amping mo!

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