CAGAYAN DE ORO -- The reservoir of the proposed Mega dam in the Borders of Bukidnon and Cotabato provinces covering at least 40,000 hectares would be the biggest man-made lake in Mindanao.
A man-made lake of 400 square kilometers for the Pulangi V hydro electric project, a little closer to the size of lake Lanao of 354.60 square kilometer (sq km), the second largest freshwater lake in the Philippines. Lake Lanao located in the Province of Lanao del Sur, in the heart of Mindanao at 701.35 meters above sea level.
Lake Lanao has only one outlet to the sea, the Agus River. Before 1978, the National Power Corporation (NPC) has been operating five (Agus-2, Agus-4, Agus-5, Agus-6, Agus-7) power plants along the Agus River since 1953, with a combined generating capacity of 639 MW. In all these times, there was no opposition to the operation of NPC because the five power plants are only using the high-energy stream of the Agus River.
In 1978, the fate of Lake Lanao has changed for the worse. A regulatory dam constructed near the mouth of the river began operation. The people residing along the shorelines of the lake immediately felt the effect, in the form of flooding and drying of the shorelines. It used to be that when there is more rain, the more water outflows to the river; less rain, less outflow.
The result is an unstable lake and a stable river, something against the laws of nature. In 1979, construction of Agus-1, the sixth of the seven (construction of Agus-3 started in early 1990's) power plants planned for the Agus grid began. Agus-1 has changed the situation in a potentially disastrous direction along environmental and social dislocations.
The Mega dam is part of the Pulangi River System project of the NPC as early as 1980's, which planned to establish six (6) hydro-electric projects along the Pulangi River. Only Pulangi IV is established in Maramag, Bukidnon producing 100 megawatts of its 250 megawatts expected generating capacity; this is due to soil erosion in the area which silted the reservoir. The Proposed Pulangi V dam started the feasibility study in the 1990s, the Mega Dam is 140 meters in height as tall as a 50-story building with maximum generating of 350 megawatts. This would be the tallest dam and biggest energy generating capacity in Mindanao.
The project is an ecological nightmare with alarming consequences to man and the environment. It is a classic instance of tinkering with nature that is fraught with grave and irreparable results. The public outcry against this particular project had reached the highest levels of government and even to the international arena. Worst, the whole tribe and their whole ancestral domain of the Pulangiyon tribe will be submerged. Then, this is a genocide project.
"Our sacred place, the burial ground of Apu Mamalu, the ancestor of the Moro and Lumad in Mindanao, will be enundated. The desecration of the Cultural Heritage Landmark of the Mindanao tribes is a big insult and disrespect to the tribes" - Wilmar Ampuan, Pulangiyon tribe, Chair of Natabuk - an umbrella organization on indigenous peoples in Southern Manobo asserting to defend their land from development aggressions.