Cordillera IP groups call for suspension of Chico River irrigation project
BAGUIO CITY–Members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) on Tuesday picketed the office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Cordillera office to call for the suspension of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project.
The groups gathered in front of the NEDA office while officials of regional government agencies met to discuss the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the project.
More than 7,500 hectares of rice farms in the towns of Tuao and Piat in Cagayan province, and 1,170 hectares in Pinukpuk, Kalinga province are expected to benefit from the irrigation project, according to the National Irrigation Administration.
The protesters alleged that the proponents of the P4.37 billion project violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Windel Bolinget, chairperson of CPA, said the National Commission on Indigenous People should have immediately stopped the construction because the FPIC process has yet to be completed.
Bolinget added that the loan from China which is funding the project should be junked for being allegedly anomalous and in violation of the Constitution.
“Are the people aware that the Chico Pump Irrigation is funded by an onerous loan from China [and] is being constructed by a Chinese contractor and by Chinese workers?” asked Sarah Dekdeken, CPA secretary-general.
Joan Ngayaan, a native of Kalinga, said farmers need irrigation but it should not be funded by a loan that would burden the Filipino people.
Ngayaan is the daughter of Ama Daniel Ngayaan, a CPA leader who disappeared after being abducted for leading the opposition against the Chico dam project of the Marcos government in the late 1970s. /muf
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