PSPD in English Int. Solidarity 2016-10-11   4159

[Open Letter] Inquiries on ‘the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project stage II’  in the Philippines to Korea Eximbank

Inquiries on ‘the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project stage II’ in the Philippines

September 12, 2016


To : LEE Duk-hoon,
Chairperson and President of The Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank)


The Export-Import Bank of Korea (Exim bank) made a contract with the Philippine government on 9 August 2012 to provide 250 billion won of EDCF (Economic Development Cooperation Fund) for the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) which is the biggest volume in Korean EDCF history. However, indigenous people and local organizations have opposed the project and carried out the movement raising problems of submerging communities, validity of procedures, human rights infringement on indigenous people and destroying the environment.   


The international society has established guidelines and safeguard policy, and implemented them in order to prevent environmental and social damages which can be incurred by development projects. The Korean government has promoted the participation of corporates in development cooperation through concessional loans. However, various problems have occurred because of poor regulations and inspections, and lack of standards concerning the environment and the human rights during project execution. Hence, the EDCF said that it would establish EDCF Safeguard Policy and apply it to JRMP II in the Philippines.


People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) has participated in the site inspection of the 1st International Solidarity Mission in Jalaur River in the Philippines from 16 to 20 July in order to review the feasibility of loan provision of the Korean government to JRMP II and assess the relevance of EDCF Safeguard Policy application. Besides the site inspection, there are some additionally information to be confirmed. It will be highly appreciated if you answer to inquiries as below with sincerity.


▣ Project feasibility issue


I. Danger of earthquake outbreak


The area planned for the Jalaur river dam construction is situated on the line of an active fault so that it is highly exposed to topographical danger such as earthquake. The Lay Caycay earthquake in 1948, one of the worst Panay island earthquakes was caused by this West Panay fault. However, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) of the Philippines described the active West Panay fault situated in the project planned area ‘inactive’ and mentioned that ‘no vestiges of movement’ was found in the feasibility study report in 2011.


The Exim bank expressed its stance that the probability study of large-scale natural disasters including earthquakes around the Jalaur River was conducted by external experts and no safety issue was found. Furthermore, it added that the dam was designed to resist magnitude 8.5 earthquakes reflecting stricter standard than a local one, thus there would be no problem.


1.1  Dr. Ricarte S. Javelosa, a Filipino geologist stressed in his research1  report that we need to learn from the past mentioning the magnitude 7.2 Bohol earthquake occurred on 15 October 2013 but the PHISVOLCS(Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) failed to predict. Therefore, he raised the question on the argument of NIA that the West Panay fault was inactive having no topological danger. What is the stance of the Exim bank on Dr. Javelosa’s argument?


1.2 The PHIVOLCS released that 8 earthquakes2  were detected in the Iloilo, the project planned area from January to 7 September 2016. Has the Exim bank acknowledged the situation? Does it keep the stance that the West Panay fault is inactive so that probability of earthquakes is very low?


II. Involuntary Resettlement Plan 


The Exim bank said 8 communities and more than 2,400 households would be directly affected by the project in the written Q & A submitted to Park Won-seok office, a lawmaker of the Justice Party during the regular inspection of government offices in 2015. However, the NIA of the Philippines reported that the construction of dam and access road would submerge agricultural lands affecting 8 communities and 691 households in total when the International Solidarity Mission visited the site. 


On the other hand, the NIA said that housing for forcibly displaced people was still in the planning stage. Additionally, security of tenure for the land people to be dislocated is not clearly secured yet.


2.1 Has the Exim bank checked the issues regarding involuntary resttlement when reviewed the feasibility study? How did it research and review characteristics of demography, procedure of decision making, environmental aspects, and economic and social influences?
2.2 How did the Exim bank evaluate the Resettlement Action Plan of the Philippine government when reviewed feasibility study? Does the Exim bank acknowledge the situation that failure of Resettlement Action Plan has caused damages to the residents? 


2.3 There is discrepancy of 1,700 households of forced displacement between the Exim bank and NIA. Have you realized the possibility that 1,700 households have been omitted from compensation and damage prevention measure?


2.4 Compensation for forced displacement has not been executed properly. According to local civic organizations, compensation ranges from PHP 1,800 to PHP 80,000 for communities affected by the construction. Nestor Castor, one of the victims in Acalaga community lost one hectare of his land because of road construction but only paid PHP 1,800, the minimum amount. About 10 households in the same community claim that even the minimum hasn’t been paid to them. Does the Exim bank acknowledge problems regarding compensation? Does it have an intention to suspend the project until compensation for affected households get settled? 


III. Indigenous People Rights


The Philippine government has protected indigenous people by the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) enacted in 1997. The UN also adopted the ‘United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ in 2007. The mega project funded by ODA like Jalaur Multi-purpose Project is required to comply with local and international laws.

3.1 There are burial grounds of indigenous people in where the dam construction is planned and they are expected to be damaged by the construction. Indigenous people argue that desecrating burial grounds is a violation of cultural practice. The ‘Indigenous People Rights Act’ of the Philippines secures the right to protect ancestral domains3 . Does the Exim bank plan to proceed with the construction even though desecrating burial grounds violates a local law?


▣ Validity of Procedure


IV. Violation of FPIC (free, prior and informed consent)


It is claimed that NIA and NCIP (National Commission of Indigenous People) have violated the process of FPIC (Free, prior and informed consent) which is stated in both the ‘Indigenous People Rights Act’ and the ‘UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous People’.  


4.1 The NIA submitted the feasibility study report on the JRMP II to the Exim bank on November 2011. However, FPIC process was conducted from January to May 2012 after the submission. Therefore, local organizations and indigenous people raised a problem of violation of FPIC by the Philippine government, thus the feasibility study was not trustworthy. What is the stance of the Exim bank on this matter?  


4.2 The Indigenous people and local organizations insist that FPIC process is possibly manipulated by the people who support the project. The NIA was involved in the process by giving incentives to residents who opposed or reluctant. In addition, all information both advantages and disadvantages were supposed to be provided but only benefits were delivered and negative impacts were hidden including existence of the West Panay fault and danger of community submersion. Has the Exim bank been aware of improper involvement of the Philippine government in the FPIC process? Does the Exim bank have the intention to find out the facts regarding these arguments?  


4.3 The FPIC guideline of the Philippines (2006) respects the decision of indigenous people on projects whether consent or non-consent and execution of project is required to follow the decision. In the 2nd stage of FPIC, non-consent decisions of Agcalaga, Garangan and Alibunan community were submitted to NCIP but only non-consent of Alcalaga was accepted. Despite of having more non-consent communities, NCIP has earned the 2nd stage of FPIC. Has the Exim bank acknowledged the problem in the FPIC process? Will the Exim bank proceed with the project regardless of it? 


▣ following measures


V. Harassments and threats to indigenous people


According to indigenous people and local organizations, there have been constant harassments and threats of the government against the people resist to the project. The Exim bank said at the inspection of government office in 2015 that ‘Not by the police or military but by residents who support the project’ when answering to the written inquiry of Park Won-seok, a lawmaker of the Justice Party.  


However, residents exposed that armed forces and the police have been deployed to their communities and they have been threatened by their advent. When the International Solidarity Mission visited the area last July, more than 20 armed forces patrolling were observed. Expressing concerns on this situation, the Mission urged removal of residing military, police and armed forces from the communities in the final statement of the Mission.   


5.1 What is the opinion of the Exim bank on threats of deployed armed forces and the police against residents in the project resistant area? Does it still think that threats are from residents in favor of the dam construction? 


VI. Alternatives to mega-dam 


‘Dams and Development 2011’ published by the World Commission on Dams in 2011 states that planning of dam must be decided accompanying sufficient reviews of alternatives because the value of development effectiveness and fairness are questionable, and it provides recommendations as follow.


Recommendations of the world Commission on Dams5


1) No dam should be constructed without consent of residents in affected area
2) Prior to planning a new dam, all stakeholders should participate in the final evaluation for reviewing the necessity and alternatives have to be sufficiently assessed.
3) Prior to planning a new dam, the priority should be given to maximize efficiency of existing water resources and energy development
4) In terms of existing dam, all stakeholders need to evaluate safety and possibility of destruction regularly. 
5) It is required to establish the system in order to compensate residents affected by dam construction and restore destroyed ecosystem. 


6.1 Local society and indigenous people proposed NIA to build a small dam and irrigation system instead of mega-dam. Is the Exim bank willing to accept the proposal? Why?


VII. Implementation of Safeguard Policy 


The Exim bank has started revising the safeguard at the end of 2011. The revision has been posted at the English page of the Exim website in June 2016 and applied to some ODA loan projects. It is known for applying to JRMP II for trial. 

7.1 Has the feasibility study, and social and environmental impact assessment on JRMP II complied with EDCF safeguard? How did it check compliance?


7.2 How does the Exim bank monitor if the Philippine government complies with safeguard? Please state the method and period of monitoring. 


7.3. The Exim bank is obligated to encourage the government of developing country to prevent damages and infringements on human rights through sufficient consultations with residents of development project area. Does EDCF safeguard include the procedure of collecting opinions of local residents? How does it state to collect and apply opinions of resistance? 


7.4. ADB has principles not to support projects which do not coincide with safeguard and if recipients do not comply with social and environment related laws. Does the EDCF safeguard have such principles and implement ? 

7.5 A joint research report of the Social Science and Philosophy Research Foundation, Inc. and the University of the Philippines6  revealed that the Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee had hold two discussions and requested the improvement of the project plan. The committee asked to clarify exact size, capacity, service of the facility to be constructed, and extent of directly and indirectly affected area pointing out to add comprehensive plan for damage management. Furthermore, it urged to re-submit the plan with supplement studies concerning social impact on indigenous people since no research was conducted on that matter. However, environmental impact assessment was suspended by political pressure and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was issued without supplements. Is the Exim bank aware of this fact? What is the stance of the Exim bank on the claim to carry out another assessment since the environmental impact assessment was insufficient?     


1 RICARTE S.JAVELOSA, Opinions and Synthesis versus portions of the consolidated verified return of writ of Kalikasan for the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project-Stage II, Dec., 2013
2 7 January (Magnitude 3.7), 18 March (Magnitude 2.7), 20 March (Magnitude 2.3), 17 June (Magnitude 3.1), 21 July (Magnitude 3.1), 29 July (Magnitude 2.4), 12 August (Magnitude 2.0), 7 September (Magnitude 3.1) 
3 Republic Act No. 8371
4 <The Free and Prior Informed Consent(FPIC) Guidelines of 2006>, NCIP 
5 Dams and Development – A new framework for decision-making, Nov.2000
6  A Case Study of Environmental Monitoring of Korean Official Development Assistance Project in the Philippines, Nov.,2013



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