Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 30 September 1 - 7, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Against San Roque Dam Intensifies
Pangasinan -- Opposition against the controversial San Roque Dam heightened with
the start of water impounding early last month and subsequent inundation of a
village. In a show of force, some 1,600 peasants and gold panners showed up at
the People’s Summit held in Dagupan last August 24, demonstrating the widespread
resentment among residents against the project and government.
various unresolved issues and repeated proposals from the Japanese government to
postpone the impounding of the San Roque
Dam reservoir, the Philippine government allowed the San Roque
Power Corporation (SRPC) to start impounding last August 8.
protest, 1, 600 peasants and gold panners gathered
in a People’s Summit to reiterate the demand to abort the impoundment, demand
compensation to the dam-affected families and to nullify the contract between
the SRPC and the National Power Corporation. Most of the participants of the
Summit were goldpanners from the towns of San
Nicolas and San Manuel in Pangasinan
whose houses were demolished and burned when the SRPC and Philippine Army forced
them out of Sitio Bolangit, the first village to be inundated, also joined the
the summit, they marched along the major streets of Dagupan
City with placards denouncing the dam project.
Jose Doton, chairperson of Tignay
dagiti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya
iti Agno (Alliance of
Farmers along the Agno River or TIMMAWA), called for
unity and action among goldpanners in pressing for
their demands for proper compensation and sustainable livelihood.
allowing the impounding, the GMA regime clearly reveals its adherence to the
interest of a few foreign capital groups before the welfare of the affected
communities and the Filipino people. This only proves the insincerity of the
national government and the NPC to the plight of affected communities,” said
Joan Carling, chairperson of the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance.
urge the Philippine and Japanese governments to order the halt of the ongoing
impoundment, to nullify the contract with SRPC and to halt the remaining funding
releases. The NPC has to provide genuine sustainable livelihood sources to the
relocated farmers and gold panners,” she
cited that last June 24, in a dialogue with Mr. Renato
Diaz, presidential adviser for Northern Luzon,and representatives of SRPC and
NPC, Diaz and the others indicated they would comply with the request for the
deferment of impoundment until all the issues raised by the dam-affected people
have been addressed.
displacement and the lack of livelihood alternatives for gold panners
operating in the San Roque reservoir area were among
the issue presented.
the dam operation starts, the National Power Corporation especially its
Social Engineering Department that tackles on issues on resettlements and
compensations will be immediately phased out. Protesters said this would make it
more difficult for the affected families to get what they were promised on
livelihood and compensations.
the solution to irrigation problems
its efforts to justify the San Roque project, the
Philippine government cites the irrigation component of the dam, claiming it
will resolved the irrigation problems in Pangasinan
and part of Central Luzon.
to non-government organizations however, technical studies show that the dam is
not the answer to the farmers’ irrigation problems.
construction of big canals for the irrigation component of the dam will cause
the destruction of more than 10,000 hectares of rice fields
and will potentially cause flooding,” explained Doton.
said that even the National Irrigation Administration's (NIA) own engineers
admitted that the operation of the San Roque dam is
not the best means for solving the problems on the irrigation needs of Pangasinan.
Castro of Alyansa ng
mga Magsasaka sa
Gitnang Luzon (Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon
or AMGL) stated that the irrigation project will affect the food security of
tenant farmers in areas of the canal construction.
“Productive lands will again be submerged under tons of concrete and
the land use will be converted not for the interests of the people but for a few
individuals,” stated Castro.
also said it is cheaper for government to rehabilitate existing irrigation
canals and build deep wells than pursue the irrigation component of the dam.
“Farmers will be burdened with paying higher irrigation fees and the Filipino
people with another loan. The irrigation component of the SRDP has a budget of
US $ 200 million which is being applied for foreign
funding as loan.”
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already ordered the release of $30 million from the
$100 million loan it procured from the Chinese government for the dam’s
irrigation component. Clearing operations in areas of construction have also
Muna (People First) Party-list Rep. Satur
Ocampo said during the summit that Bayan Muna
representatives would present the dam-affected people’s demands to
Congress and push for the immediate cancellation of the contract between the NPC
and the SRPC.
called the contract onerous, saying Filipinos
are bound to suffer from higher electricity rates under it.
the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of the San Roque
Dam, SRPC is guaranteed return of investment and super profits within 12 years
of operation, even with zero electric output from the power station. Based on
the capacity fee and operating fee, NPC has to pay SRPC around US$ 9 million per
month for 12 years in addition to an energy fee based on the electricity
generated by the power station with the price ranging from 200%-300% higher than
the prevailing rates. In sum, NPC will have to pay a minimum of US $ 1.2 Billion
in 12 years, on top of an estimated US$ 3 million per year for the energy
said that with NPC’s
financial obligations to SRPC, it would be cheaper for the government not to
operate the dam and just pay back the capital expense of SRPC including
interest, as provided for in the agreement in case it is cancelled.
Ocampo met with Japanese Diet members last August 19
to discuss legislative actions Bayan Muna intends to take in connection with the
San Roque Dam project. The Japanese
parliamentarians reportedly support the opposition to the dam project.
Bishop Alberto Ramento of
Iglesia Filipina Independencia (IFI)
- Dagupan-Tarlac Jurisdiction also attended the
Ramento pointed out the
“continuing social injustices with the implementation of development projects
which do not serve the welfare and interest of the poor.” He commented that
the prevailing political, economic and social order must be change in order for
the majority to have a better life.
the closing, Carling of CPA said, “the Philippine government should come to
terms with and admit the fact that, in embarking upon and pursuing the San Roque
project, it has made a gigantic error in judgment.”
Summit culminated with the signing of a manifesto calling for a stop to the San Roque
Dam project. Bulatlat.com