CA to resolve writ of kalikasan in Iloilo

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THE Supreme Court has declined to act on the plea filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in connection with the writ of kalikasan issued by the high court on an P11-billion dam project in Iloilo.

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In a full court resolution, the tribunal instead noted the consolidated verified return of the writ (with opposition to the application for a writ of continuing mandamus) of the OSG without resolving the issues raised.

The court also referred the matter to the Court of Appeals (CA) to resolve the issues.

The CA will be tasked to hear the case and receive evidence on the case.

In October 2013 , the high tribunal thumbed down the dam project in the wake of a petition for a writ of kalikasan sought by former-lawmaker Augusto Syjuco Jr. of Iloilo.

Syjuco opposed the project which may displace thousands of residents and starve hundreds of poor and marginalized Ilongos and claimed that the construction of Jalaur Multi-Purpose Project will displace 17,000 indigenous people living in the affected areas.

The P11-billion project seeks to upgrade the year-round coverage of existing irrigation systems from 22,000 to 31,840 hectares of farmland, supplement the power supply in the province through the building of a 6.6-megawatt hydroelectric power plant, augment the supply of good quality and potable water for domestic and industrial consumption, mitigate flood, promote eco-tourism, and generate employment for 17,000 workers during construction.

Syjuco said he filed the petition to oppose the continued implementation of the so-called Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project–Phase II.

Tribes living in the three affected barangays in Calinog that are holders of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles will be submerged.

As title holders under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts, they cannot be dislocated from their homes because their concept of ownership sustains the view that ancestral domains and all resources found therein shall serve as the material bases of their cultural integrity.

Syjuco pointed out that the project would trigger the killing of many fish and other aquatic species, the disappearance of birds in the floodplains of the second district and the cities of Passi and Iloilo.

The petition added that another study was conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Rapid Geohazard Assessment document declared areas in the downstream and those near the Jalaur River as highly susceptible to flooding.

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