Calinog IPs demand compensation for alleged violations in the Jalaur mega dam project

Calinog IPs point to alleged violations of Daewoo in the construction of Jalaur mega dam project.

The Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Calinog, Iloilo agreed with the construction of Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) in their ancestral domains, hoping that the mega dam project will bring inclusive growth to their communities. With a little more than a year prior to its target completion, the IPs felt shortchanged with how the things are going.

The Panay Bukidnon-Halawodnon Indigenous Cultural Community of Calinog, as represented by their Council of Elders, held a press conference Tuesday, September 27 at the Mayor’s Office to express their sentiments regarding the alleged violations of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. (Daewoo), the South Korean firm tapped by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to construct the mega dam project.

According to former Vice Mayor Renato Casinao, president of the Calinog Indigenous People’s Organization (CIPO), Daewoo extracted massive amount of quarry materials (rocks, sand and aggregates) from their ancestral domains without their permission. They claimed that these were stockpiled in Barangay Agcala and Barangay Alibunan, two villages in Calinog covered by the Memorandum of Agreement.

Former Calinog Vice Mayor Renato Casinao, president of Calinog Indigenous People Organization.

In an assessment report by Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) on October 2020, the stockpiled twelve mounds of materials have a total assessed volume of about 381,158.22 cubic meters.

The IPs said that this is a breach of the agreement which states that NIA and the contractor are obligated to “refrain from using in the construction of dams and other appurtenant structures of JRMP II sand and gravel/quarry materials from areas within the ancestral domain of the affected IPs, and that a corresponding amount shall be collected as penalty in case this clause is violated.”

In January 2021, the Council of Elders issued a resolution seeking the assistance of PENRO and the MENRO regarding the alleged violations. The resolution also demanded payment of proper compensation or royalty for the extraction taken from their land.

Jimmy Lastrilla, representative of the Council of Elders to the Joint Monitoring Team (JMT) of the project, said that they are asking for a compensation of P30 for every cubic meter of aggregates extracted from their ancestral domains.

Jimmy Lastrilla, head of the council of elders of Barangay Agcalaga, Calinog.

The Council of Elders issued another resolution last July 2022 requesting the assistance of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). They also sent a letter to Daewoo last August 2022 asking for just compensation for the sand and gravel taken from their ancestral lands. To date, no such compensation has been given.

The plight of the IPs has caught the attention of former Senator Franklin Drilon, who championed the construction of the biggest dam outside of Luzon.

In a message to RMN Iloilo, Drilon said he “will request Engineer Jonel Borres, the NIA Region 6 official supervising the construction of Jalaur dam, to check on this, and if true, help the IPs (tumandok) get what is due them. No longer being in government, this is the best I can do for the tumandoks.”

Subcontractor cries foul over unpaid services

Aside from the IPs, representatives of Trimluv Builders and Supply were also present in the press conference to complain against Daewoo for alleged non-payment of their services as subcontractor of the project.

Atty. Aimee Quevenco, legal counsel of construction firm based in neighboring province of Negros Occidental, said that Daewoo sub-contracted the construction of the High Line Canal to Trimluv.

Atty. Aimee Quevenco, legal counsel of Trimluv.
Atty. Aimee Quevenco, legal counsel of Trimluv Builders and Supply, the subcontractor of JRMP II High Line Canal project.

In July 2021, Daewoo issued Notice to Proceed (NTP) to Trimluv to commence the project and do preparatory works even without the existence of a valid contract. Quevenco said that they were forced to sign the contract in a hurry only in December 2021.

Trimluv claimed that they proceeded with the project even without a contract as they were assured by the officers of Daewoo that there would be an adjustment of the work scope and BOQ.

Quevenco said that Trimluv found out later that the contract they signed has clauses that were different from that promised by Daewoo officials. The construction firm was also forced to undertake projects that were not related to the main high line canal, and Daewoo did not pay for these additional works nor did they adjust the scope of work and BOQ, Quevenco added.

Trimluv sent a series of letters to Daewoo but these were mostly ignored, said Quevenco. The sub-contract was eventually terminated.

Steve E. Cordero, Watershed Management Chief and JRMP II Spokesperson, clarified that NIA has already prepared its proposal for the payment of royalty for the extracted raw materials from the dam site and that were re-used by the contractor Daewoo in the construction of the dams. Said

The proposal was submitted to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Joint Monitoring Team (JMT) for their evaluation. The same proposal was previously tackled in a meeting with the IP Elders, NCIP, NIA, Daewoo and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Calinog last July 11, 2022.

“As of now negotiations are ongoing regarding the fixing of the amount of royalty fee and NIA has already requested the other parties to fast track their counterproposal. Payment of royalty will not be an issue as long all concerned parties agree during the negotiation process,” said Cordero.

He likewise encouraged the stakeholders to refer their concerns related to the project to Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) so that the it will be properly addressed by the agency.

About Nonoy Taclino

Nonoy Taclino is a pioneer blogger and social media manager in Iloilo, with 15 years of experience under his belt.

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