Calinog Mayor Alex Centena cited some outsiders who claimed themselves as Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to be those opposing the construction of P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) in Calinog, Iloilo.
“Those who are opposing the development in our town are not actually residents of our town nor resident of Barangay Agcalaga where the biggest dam will be constructed. The dam to be constructed is located between the two mountains and nobody is living there,” he said.
Centena said around 200 legitimate IPs will be affected by the construction but he did not encounter any problem with them since they have frequent consultations and talks.
“We have already assured IPs of their resettlement, jobs and livelihood and nobody can stop the project,” he said.
Even Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon assured IPs of a relocation site, homes and sustainable livelihood.
Drilon said the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is the overall in-charge for these relocatees.
“This is not a problem. The NIA will be taking care of them and everybody who will be displaced and relocated will be provided of a better livelihood and other means to sustain their lives,” he said.
Drilon said the first out of three dams will be completed by 2016 or before the term of President Benigno Aquino III ends while the two other dams will also be constructed one after the other.
The senator assured that the project will continue even after the president’s term because this is covered with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and laws authorizing the construction of Jalaur dam.
For his part, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. also assured IPs that they will get his support.
Three months ago, the governor convened a meeting among national government agencies participated in by more than 100 IP leaders at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.
Defensor said the meeting is an opportunity for IPs to know what various assistance particularly on housing, employment and livelihood will be given to them once they are displaced.
The governor said the TESDA provided a two-week skills training to 150 IPs in May last year in preparation for 70,000 available jobs soon.
The NHA also assured IPs of homes with construction cost of P175,000 each unit.