On the Jalaur Mega Dam Project

Dam PamatukanNote: This is a condensed version of an October 2012 briefer by the Jalaur River for the People Movement.

The Jalaur Mega Dam project, which is planned for construction in Calinog, Iloilo, is a new threat to the cultural rights, land, and lives of the indigenous people of Central Panay and all the peoples of Panay in general.

While the Aquino regime claims that this will improve irrigation, provide additional electric power, augment potable water supply, mitigate flood, and promote eco-tourism, it is not difficult to see the adverse effects of the project.

It is also not difficult to see the real interests the mega dam serves and the need for the people of Panay to oppose its construction.


Four barangays will be directly affected by the construction of the proposed Jalaur mega dam. Barangay Agcalaga, Masaroy, and Garangan in the municipality of Calinog and barangay Tampucao in the municipality of Lamubano will be totally submerged.

Seven more barangays in the upstream area of the dam, which along with the four barangays that will be submerged are home to the Tumandok indigenous peoples of Central Panay, will moreover be indirectly disturbed by the dam.

A total of 15,000 Tumandoks in these barangays and surrounding areas will be dislocated from their ancestral lands, threatening their culture, lives and livelihood. There are also neither clear relocation sites nor any concrete and long term program that will address their displacement.

Despite of this, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the National Irrigation Administration were able to secure the “Free Prior and Informed Consent” of the Tumandoks only by enticing them with the “benefits” of the project without presenting its grave dangers.

West Panay Fault line

The proposed mega-dam is sitting little more than 11 kilometers away from the West Panay fault line which caused one of the most destructive earthquakes in the island of Panay in 1948. This quake damaged 55 churches, 17 of which have totally collapsed and 20 beyond repair.

Based on the records of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), another intensity 9 earthquake hit the island of Panay in 1620 that changed the course of Aklan River and damaged stone churches and facades in Passi City.

Another earthquake with magnitude 7.1, also hit the island in June 14, 1990 at a depth of 15km with 7 persons perished and 31 others injured.

Meanwhile, a Mines and Geosciences Bureau Rapid Geohazard Assessment of Barangay Agcalaga in Calinog also reveals that the area where the mega dam is to be constructed is highly susceptible to landslides.


Residents of the towns of Barotac Nuevo, Calinog, Dingle, Dueñas, Dumangas, Pototan, and Zarraga and the city of Passi which the 123-kilometer long Jalaur River traverses are particularly prone to the dangers of flooding once the dam is constructed.

Dam operators keep higher levels of water in the dam to make the hydroelectric turbines operate better but open the floodgates once the water volume threatens to break the dam. Heavy rains are hence a frequent occasion for massive flooding in communities downstream of the dam.

The reverse is true in times of drought, wherein the higher level of water needed to operate the turbines diverts the limited water from the downstream water channels into the dam.

The Bayan Muna Party-list has filed a resolution in the House of Representatives seeking an onsite public hearing on the safety of the Jalaur mega dam project in the light of these dangers.

Worsening Debts

P8.96 billion of the P11.2 billion total budget for the Jalaur mega dam will be funded using loans from the Korean Export-Import Bank serving as Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the South Korean government. This will be an additional debt burden for the Filipino people as the government passes on these debts to the people by raising taxes.

Worse, many dam projects around the world have high actual construction costs compared to the original approximations because of the unrelenting increase in the prices of construction materials brought about by the unabated oil price hikes and the intensifying economic crisis afflicting the country and the whole world.

The high interest rates on our foreign loans ensure that foreign monopoly capital continues to accumulate profits while the Philippine economy continues to bleed financially and remain dependent on them.

The monopoly capitalists ensure that we only get commodities and services related to the dam from them. The multinational corporations from countries where the loans are taken out also provide the construction firms, construction supplies and machineries, as well as technical personnel for the project.

Human Rights Violations

The local big business, landlords and corrupt government officials serve as the local partners and conduits of the foreign monopoly capitalists by facilitating the entry of the project into the country through laws, policies, programs and contracts.

They spin promises of development and benefits for the people. But as resistance broadens and intensifies, they will employ more and more repressive violence as their deceptions are exposed and opposed by the people.

Already there is an increased military presence in the area where the dam will be built. The local government of Calinog has also setup the Kabayan Action Group, a paramilitary group which includes retired army and police members that will serve to guard the dam construction.

The militarization of the area will continue until the actual dam construction, posing a grave danger to those opposed to the Jalaur dam, just like the murder of Macli-ing Dulag in the struggle against the Chico Dam in the Cordillera back in the 1980s.

People, Not Profits

The overall impact of the Jalaur mega dam only shows that this project only serves the interests of the international banks, multinational corporations in construction and energy, local big landlords, bourgeois comprador and corrupt government officials.

We have no other choice but to unite against the Jalaur mega dam in defense of our rights and interests. We must expose the harmful effects of the construction of the Jalaur dam – from flooding, environmental destruction, loss of livelihood, and militarization – to the widest number of people. We must get support for the Tumandok communities that will be directly displaced by the project.

We must oppose the real interests that the dam serves. We must shun the foreign-dominated economic model imposed by foreign banks and governments on our people.

Instead, let us put forward a program of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization that will ensure a truly independent and self-reliant economy that will benefit the people, especially the toiling masses of workers, peasants, and indigenous peoples.

Church people, members of the academe, professionals, local government officials, and various other sectors have joined the broad anti-Jalaur dam network named the Jalaur River for the People Movement.

Only by arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the widest number of people against the construction of the Jalaur dam can we ensure the defense of our lives.

Oppose the Jalaur Mega Dam Project!

Defend the People’s Lives!


  1. The construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam Project will more of a benefit to the province of Iloilo through keeping the rain water stored inside the dam for use in irrigating farmlands to increase rice crop production. It will also control the water flooding during the occurrence of heavy rainfull flowing instantly to barrios, towns and barangays along its path. With the presence of the dam, flood waters rushing down the lower valleys could be controlled to keep the flood water flows in manage control. The presence of the Dam could hold water longer and allow the water inside the Dam to be stored into our natural ground water reservoir that could be pump out during drought seasons. The flow of water exiting the dam could generate electricity that are vital to our electrical power needs and could save money from buying foreign oil to burn and power our electric generating plants.

    1. In short, as the Aquino regime repeatedly claims, the dam will improve irrigation, provide additional electric power, augment potable water supply, mitigate flood, and promote eco-tourism. But as this post argues, it is not difficult to see the adverse effects of the dam in terms of dislocating indigenous peoples, aggravating floods during typhoons and heavy rains, threatening the people of Panay with greater disaster during earthquakes, worsening foreign debts, and intensifying human rights violations. It is also not difficult to see the real interests the mega dam serves -that of foreign capitalists, big landlords, and corrupt bureaucrats – and the need for the people of Panay to oppose its construction.

  2. Those people, individuals, and groups advocating and blocking the JRMP are mere skeptic and are old fashioned folks of primitive thinking and are living in the past generation of Magellan and Lapu-Lapu ERA even the current politicians of our country who opposed the this project are illiterate of the technology and advancement we have inherited in the development of our lives and advancement progress of technology around the world. These technological advancement we enjoy are products of human ingenuity as we see and realized it now today. Man’s conquest of space in the 1960’s are real, we have cell phones now were we could talk to reach people around the world. We traveled by airplane at 500 mph now to reach USA IN 14 hours instead of months during the Magellan and Columbus time. It reminds me of my uncle who is so afraid to ride in the airplane from MINDANAO to Manila I, the 1960. Senator Loren Legarda is flying by airplane to reach other parts of the island and uses a cell phone as an instrument of communication and that’s technology. I fly to California by Boeing 747 In the 70’s as immigrant, worked with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft for yrs. at its C-17 program and I come from PASSI CITY ILOILO. I am advocating and 100% backing the JRMP because we as a people have to move forward to realize development and improvements in our lives. We are not to live our past. the WORLD is fast changing so does our lives. Look around us , there is T.V. CellL phone. computers and electricity instead of lampara.

    1. Hi, Roselio. The issue is not about the use or non-use of technology. Technology, as a principle, should be used for the benefit of the people. The more crucial question should be: does the project benefit or harm the people? Whose interest does its construction serve? By dislocating indigenous peoples, by aggravating floods during typhoons and heavy rains, by threatening the people of Panay with greater disaster during earthquakes, by worsening the country’s already gigantic foreign debts, and by intensifying human rights violations, the Jalaur dam clearly harms rather than benefits the people. Only the international banks, multinational corporations in construction and energy, local big landlords, bourgeois comprador and corrupt bureaucrats stand to benefit from it.

  3. Why are you people so afraid of the calamities? NATURAL disaster often happens all over the world. there is no escape from it from Europe, U.S., Russia, Japan and etc. all we had to do is manage these disaster. it is part of our life in this world. if it so happens its not the end of the world. I remember when I was a small boy growing up with a very young mind, the POLAHAN living in the mountain of PASSI came down in droves of thousands their leader AGUILAR proclaims that comes Sunday it will be the end of the world, I believed it was in the 1950’s all of them dressed in white gathered in the PASSI plaza gathering proclaiming the end of the world. In my life time , I have experience these madness a lot of times the most recent one was the MAYAN’S INCA’S of MEXICO Dec 22, 2012 end of the MAYAN calendar and the final end of the world. Lots of people around the world gathered there in the MAYANS RUINS to watch the ALLIEN space ship coming to get the believers out of these earth for another planet. Comes the day nothings happens we all still see the sun shine the following day life runs as usual. I don’t know you people that believes in rotten imaginations YOU just bring havoc and scares the hell of your life.

    1. Totoo naman yan, but the Mayan “End of the World” is based on ancient myth and superstition. That a dam can break during earthquakes or cause floods during heavy rainfall and typhoons are based on scientific facts. Disasters come and go. But we can prepare for them, sometimes avoid them altogether, or mitigate their effects. There should be no room for unnecessary sacrifices on the part of the people just so corrupt officials can get their share of project’s SOP. ;)

  4. According to Politica, authored by CARLOSI MONGAYIN “JALAUR RIVER DAM IS A KILLER DAM, YES Carlosing Mongayin, when this Dam break, waters from it will rush to OTON Iloilo where you live and wash your house along with you to the OTON ocean where you will be eaten up by the great WHITE Shark hungry of Mongayin flesh and blood,

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