Resolve All Outstanding Issues, Stop the San Roque Dam Operation

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The Cordillera Peoples Alliance and TIMMAWA call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not to inaugurate the San Roque Dam, inspite of pressures from the Dam proponents and the so-called savings from the renegotiated contract. CPA claims that the operation of the San Roque dam remains a big financial burden to the Filipino people. Even under the renegotiated Power Purchase Agreement of this mega-dam project, the NPC/Phil government will have to pay the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) with a fixed cost (capacity and operating fees) of approximately US $ 10 million a month in addition to the energy fee based on the actual power generated each month. What the NPC claims as savings from the renegotiated contract is only a reduction of the energy fee, which is a lot smaller than the fixed cost to be paid to SRPC every month.

Likewise, the operation of the dam will not even create revenue, as the electricity generated will only add up to the existing surplus of power from Independent Power Producers. Given the serious national budget deficit, it will be unconscionable for the Phil government to operate the dam and pay SRPC exuberant fees equivalent to a minimum of P 500 million a month. This cost will be passed on to consumers or will be shouldered by the Philippine government. This will again burden the Filipino people of exorbitant fees added to their electric bill and will also further deny the Filipino people of much needed basic services as the limited national budget and sources of the government will be used up to pay the SRPC. The still anomalous PPA contract should thereby be cancelled in order to save the Filipino people from another financial burden from a useless project.

The national government should seriously address the demands of affected communities, instead of operating the dam. Since the construction of this mega-dam project, the promised compensation and sustainable livelihood sources for affected communities has yet to be fulfilled. The relocated families who were promised a better life continue to suffer from lack of livelihood sources that they cannot even afford to pay their electric and water bills. More and more of them are now selling their houses at the resettlement site. While there are many livelihood projects given by NPC, most of these have failed to provide sustainable source of income. Likewise, affected families claim that the payment of compensation has been subjected to reduction by certain NPC officials to as much as 20-30% while some livelihood projects did not get the whole amount claimed by NPC.

We therefore call on the national government to commission an independent evaluation and investigation on the livelihood projects and compensation funds, especially on potential graft and corruption and to a better implementation of more sustainable livelihood projects and sources for the affected people. Likewise, The thousands of economically displaced goldpanners remains uncompensated, inspite of their legitimate demand for monetary compensation and for sustainable livelihood sources. Series of dialogues with NPC officials resulted to nothing as goldpanners are still awaiting the resolution of their legitimate demands.

For the upstream affected people of Itogon, the Itogon-Interbarangay Alliance (I-IBA) deplores the implementation of the Itogon Integrated Watershed Management Plan. In particular, the construction of series of check dams to contain siltation from flowing down actually cause the flooding and destruction of ricefields and agricultural lands. Further the Shalupirip Santahnay Indigenous Peoples Movement also deplores the dam proponents and the national government in ignoring their plight as directly affected from the operation of the dam, due to siltation and potential upstream flooding. This can be seen from the actual experience on the Ambuklao dam, already with 18 kilometers long of silt upstream of the reservoir.

The withdrawal of endorsement by the Itogon Council is a welcome development as it only validates what I-IBA and SSIPM had been saying all along in terms of the sincerity of the national government and dam proponents in addressing the serious concerns of the affected people of Itogon. There is now a legal problem on the compliance of the legal provision under the Local Government Code requiring favorable endorsement of concerned local government units of projects affecting their constituents. We commend the Itogon Council for its stand for the non-commissioning of the dam due to its adverse impacts in the upstream.

CPA and TIMMAWA appeals to the public to support their position in the non-operation of the San Roque Dam, by pressuring the national government to cancel the PPA of this useless project, recognize the rights and entitlements of affected people and provide for sustainable livelihood to all those economically displaced as a result of the construction of the San Roque Dam. We hope the president will head our call to abort the operation as an act for social justice. This project is another white elephant like the Bataan Nuclear plant, which is another financial burden to the Filipino people and had caused and will cause more suffering to thousands of affected communities.

CPA, TIMMAWA and all its national and international partners shall continue to oppose and expose this anti- people and destructive project as it only benefit foreign capitalists and its local partners, including opportunist government officials.