Kalinga IP group fears widespread flooding from Chico irrigation project
A Kalinga IP group warns a planned irrigation project could submerge villages and farmlands in the province under water.
Artemio Dumlao

Kalinga IP group fears widespread flooding from Chico irrigation project

Artemio Dumlao (Philstar.com) - April 25, 2018 - 4:05pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines —  An indigenous peoples' group in Kalinga fears the P3.135-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project will cause environmental destruction and economic dislocation and may even cause animosity against the government.

Despite reassurances from Rep. Allen Jessie Mangaoang (Kalinga), Kalinga leader Juan Dammay, a native of Basao, Tinglayan and chairperson of Cordillera Peoples Alliance -Kalinga, said the project will submerge indigenous villages and vast rice and corn farmlands in Pinukpuk town.

President Rodrigo Duterte secured Chinese funding for the project during his April 10 visit to Hainan province in China. 

Last March, the National Irrigation Administration signed a P4.3-billion contract with China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd for the Chico River project.

Villagers fear destruction, displacement

Dammay believes that the project will put rice and corn farmlands in Barangay Sucbot, Pinukpuk all the way to its boundaries with Tabuk City under water.

According to Rep. Mangaoang, the planned irrigation project will be built in Pinukpuk, Kalinga, to provide irrigation to at least 4,000 hectares of farmlands in downstream Cagayan province.

The irrigation, Mangaoang hopes, will bring irrigation to Rizal, Kalinga and down to Sta. Maria, Isabela, Enrile and Tu-ao and other towns in Cagayan.

Dammay recalled how the World Bank-funded Chico River Basin Multi-purpose Dam project during the Marcos administration forced some Kalinga villagers to rise up and take arms against the goverment in the 1970s.

He warned of fierce opposition to the project because of the belief that it would flood Kalinga villages and farmlands.

Even a small dam where the project is being proposed, the Kalinga leader warned, would cause flooding and massive siltation because the river terrain of the area where it is proposed is more or less flat.  

"Even during strong typhoons, river water is almost stagnant because the area is flat," he explained in Iluko.

He also claimed that residents had not been consulted on the project.

Dammay led a delegation of Kalinga elders and leaders in the annual Cordillera Day celebration, which is held every April 24 to commemorate the death of Macli-ing Dulag.

Dulag, a Kalinga “pangat” (peace pact holder) who led tribal folk against the Chico dam project, was killed by government forces in 1980.


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