Iloilo City, April 12, 2014
Resource persons: Attys. Zafiro Lauron, Ed Pestano, and Paul Margarico, all from Iloilo’s third congressional district.
Lawyers Boy Layton, Paul Margarico, and Edward Pestano : we are for irrigation but we are against the Jalaur Dam II, a super dam that puts the environment and our lives at risk.
Lauron: the dam plan was railroaded even sans free, prior and informed consent.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) touts that JRMPP II will irrigate additional 30,000 of rice lands but Lauron disputes that saying it will only serve 9,000 additional rice lands “which should have been completed in the ’60 under the first phase of the project.”
“We are not against development, in fact, we are for it,” adds lawyer Pestano. “However, the proponents of the JRMP II (Jalaur River Multi Purpose Project II violated all pertinent laws and procedures.”
Petitioner Augusto Syjuco has commissioner Ric Javelosa, “the only geo-morphologist” in the country who has come up with a study that, in sum, the JRMP II is fraught with dangers to the environment and lives of people.
However, government people has approached Javelosa, a former functionary at Philvocs and Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB), and offered him a “juicy position in government.”
If that’s not attempted bribery, then what do you call it? asks Lauron.
Lawyer Margarico, native of Januiay town, holds Javelosa’s researh “more credible” than government’s assurances which he dismisses as “baseless” and “misleading.”
What is the alternative to the mega-dam?
Lawyer Pestano, citing Javelosa’s paper, points to Vietnam’s experience. He says: “Vietnam has not megadam yet its enjoys rising rice production. Vietnam has only SWIPs.”
SWIP stands for “small water impounding projects” that Vietnam built for its farmers which are cheaper, more efficient, easier to manage and safer compared to dams.”
Lauron declares he will be filing an “intervention suit” in support of Syjuco, the petitioner. “I am a native of Lambunao and I am directly affected by the project. I still want to live in my town.”
Lauron is Syjuco’s counsel in the Writ of Kalikasan suit filed against the government, in the words of Lauron, “to compel it to be more transparent and honest in its dealing with the people.”
The case was filed directly with the Supreme Court but the high tribunal referred it to the Court of Appeals where it is pending.