ILOILO — The petition for writ of kalikasan with prayer for temporary protection order that could prevent or delay the construction of P11.2-billion water reservoir in Jalaur River has been dismissed by the Court of Appeals due to lack of merit.
The decision dismissing the plea was ordered by Associate Justice Rosemari Carandang and concurred by Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Edwin Sorongon on September 16 and made public on September 23.
“Thus, as positively shown by public respondents that there was no unlawful act or omission on their part, which have not been overturned by petitioner by concrete and convincing evidence, this petition has no merit to warrant the reliefs prayed for,” part of the decision reads.
Syjuco filed the petition last October 30, 2013 in the Supreme Court assailing the validity of the implementation of Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II, which, if completed, will be the largest dam outside Luzon.
He cited as respondents the National Irrigation Administration, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agriculture, National Economic and Development Authority, Environmental Management Bureau Region 6 and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
On October 31, the Supreme Court issued a writ of kalikasan and referred the case to the Court of Appeals for hearing and resolution on the merits.
In its decision, Justice Carandang wrote in his final note that “the Court is not unaware of the social and environmental effects that may be caused by JRMP II, or by any project for that matter.”
“That is the price of progress. JRMP II has been envisioned to increase production in agriculture and to answer thebasic needs of the region in terms of generation of hydro-electric power and domestic power distribution,” she continued.
Further, she said that the petitioner’s bare allegations were outweighed by public respondents’ compliance with the laws.
Prior to the issuance of this order, NIA secured the certificate of compliance to the free, prior and informed consent process, a major requirement prior to the actual construction of the project, from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
With this development, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. is relieved that NIA can finally commence with bidding process for the construction of the mega dam.
“Finally, there are no more obstacles,” acclaimed Defensor, who earlier committed to resolve and deliver the demands of the affected IPs in hinterlands of Calinog.
JRMP II is expected to provide a year-round irrigation to 31,840 hectares of farm lots in Iloilo to increase the annual production of rice from 140,000 to 300,000 metric tons.
The project is also seen to help sustain the region’s rice self-sufficiency target and contribute to the country’s rice production target of 7.6 percent.
Other benefits include: 1. Ample supply of water for irrigation, 2. Increase production of rice from 3.6 to 5 metric tons per hectare, 3. Employment opportunities during project construction, 4. Hydroelectric power supply, 5. Bulk water supply, 6. Mitigate flooding in Calinog and nearby towns, and 6. Promotion of eco-cultural tourism in Calinog.