The latest atrocities of the state forces towards the Tumandok is a clear manifestation of the dangers of red tagging and move to sow terror and to silence their resistance to the injustice that befell them.
Blood flows through Jalaur river as 9 Tumandok environment defenders were killed in a combined CIDG, PNP and AFP operations in Capiz and Iloilo on December 30. The Tumandok people have long been at the forefront in the resistance against the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam, making them subject to red-tagging and intensified militarization in their community. AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People strongly denounces this massacre and the arrest of 17 other Tumandok community members, and demands that state forces must be punished for murdering and arresting these civilians.
The Tumandok peoples’ opposition against Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II (JRMPP) is rooted in the project’s environmental and socio-economic impacts especially in the 18 barangays, majority of which are ancestral lands of the Tumandok indigenous peoples who rely on the Jalaur river for their livelihood. JRMPP or Jalaur Dam as what people call it, is a billion-peso government project that aims to supply power and water for irrigation in the province of Iloilo. In 2012 and 2014, AGHAM, in partnership with the Jalaur River for the People Movement, conducted an Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) to identify the possible impacts of the project.
Based on the EIM findings, the proponent of the Jalaur Dam failed to establish a detailed geological mapping and subsurface investigations that are crucial in determining the potential natural hazards that will affect the dam, particularly with regards to the stability of the structure and its foundation. Geologic hazards such as earthquakes can pose dangers to the dam that may cause massive flooding to nearby communities. The study also confirmed that there was never a Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process that took place, a requisite for development projects within ancestral domains of indigenous peoples under the IPRA Law (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act). Also, risks and possible negative impacts were still not addressed and were not communicated to the stakeholders. These key findings have validated the fears and concerns of the Tumandok people who are valiantly fighting for the protection of the people and the environment.
The latest atrocities of the state forces towards the Tumandok is a clear manifestation of the dangers of red tagging and move to sow terror and to silence their resistance to the injustice that befell them. These environment defenders are not communist terrorists as accused by their perpetrators. AGHAM urges that the state forces and the NTF-ELCAC which spreads dangerous lies and heads the witch-hunt against government critics must be held accountable for the heinous crimes committed not only to the Tumandok people but to all the victims of red-tagging and state fascism.