• Farmers oppose Kalinga dam project

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    TABUK CITY, Kalinga: The provincial federation of farmers associations renewed their opposition to the proposed Upper Tabuk Hydro Power Project (UTHP) here which they said will only bring more problems than benefits to villagers.

    Artemio Fontanilla, chairman of the Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga (TMK) said the proposed hydro power project will displace farmers who will lose their farmlands which is their only source of livelihood.

    He said that energy projects are good but there is a need to consider what is more important and more beneficial to the people.

    “We can still live without the dam and we would prefer to use saleng (pinewood) as in the past. What is important is that we have our source of food, our farmland,” Fontanilla said.

    He added they doubt the proponent’s claim that the dam won’t not cause floods even as he expressed concern that the wide agricultural farm downstream will turn into a gravel pit and that “we must be ready for the agony” if the project is pursued.

    He added that palay (rice) production along Chico River from San Juan to Tabuk City to Barangay Sucbot of Pinukpuk town will be severely affected.

    “What would happen when these farmlands are gone is, the country would need to import more rice from other nations instead of going forward to become self-sufficient in rice,” Fontanilla said.

    Earlier, the Minanga Indigenous Cultural Community requested the Tabuk City Council to endorse in their favor the UTHP dam project but this was opposed by TMK which also submitted a position paper and a petition opposing the said project.

    The proposed hydro dam project has a 35 meters weir head height and can produce at about 15-20 megawatt (MW) base from the water discharge of the Tanudan River in Kalinga.

    According to Daniel Peckley Jr. of DPJ Engineers and Consultants which is the proponent of the UTHP, the dam site will be put just above the confluence of the Tanudan and Chico rivers and three kilometers from the reservoir tail end up to the ricefields of the Taloctoc tribe in Tanudan town.

    “The main objective of the proposed hydro dam there is to produce electric power to bring electric cost down to P1 per kilowatt hour (kwh),” Peckley said.

    He added that when it is operational, UTHP will provide resources for the improvement and provision of irrigation for about 65 hectares in the villages of Dupag, Bagumbayan and Naneng.

    Also, Peckley said, the neighboring tribes – Malbong, Naneng and Dallac – may also have shares about P1.2 million royalty fees annually, just like the villages and the local government units.

    The hydro dam project, he added, will benefit Tabuk city government in terms of real property taxes alone of about P5 to 6 million a year.

    However, Danny Bangibang, TMK secretariat member who belongs to the Taloctoc tribe in the upper portion of Minanga and whose village will be affected by the proposed dam project, said that they remain firm in their opposition to the project.

    with ESTANISLAO ALBANO JR.

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