Syjuco loses bid vs Iloilo dam project
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals denied the bid of former Iloilo lawmaker to stop the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River mega dam in Iloilo which is expected to displace thousands of indigenous people in the province.
In a six-page resolution, made public Monday, the appeals court’s former 5th division through Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang, said former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. failed to show evidence that would support his request for Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO).
Respondents in the petition are the National Irrigation Administration, Department of Agriculture, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform and Senate President Franklin Drilon, the main project proponent for the mega dam.
Under the JRMP 2, the irrigation system will be expanded to cover 31,000 hectares and additional electricity will be produced through the construction of a 6.6 megawatt hydroelectric power plant. The project will also improve the supply of water, mitigate flood, promote eco-tourism and generate 17,000 employment.
However, Syjuco in his petition said the “killer dam,” based on a study by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), is prone to landslides and flooding and has an active fault line.
He added that if the project would push through, thousands of indigenous people would be displaced.
Syjuco said the project would harm aquatic species as well as destroy the natural hydrologic system of the river.
But the appeals court, in its decision, said a review of the testimonies of witnesses for the respondents would show that the activities in the area had been part of the memorandum of agreement entered into between IPs, NIA and National Council for Indigenous People (NIC) for the feasibility study of JRMP II and was requested by the IP themselves.
On the other hand, the road construction was requested by the indigenous community.
Also contrary to Syjuco’s allegation, the drilling and blasting occurred only at a specific time.
The appeals court noted that Syjuco, in the photographs he presented, made it appear that the blasting activities are continuous.
“Thus, not only petitioner failed to assume the burden of proof, he failed to show any evidence of alleged ongoing activities that would support his prayer for TEPO based on extreme urgency and that would cause him grave injustice and irreparable injury as required under Section 8, Rule 2 of the Rules on Procedure for Environmental Cases,” the appeals court said.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Edwin Sorongon.
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