IP Council of Elders slam oppositionists to JRMP II

ILOILO CITY – The chairman of the council of elders of the indigenous peoples community here has slammed those opposing the implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project (JRMP) Stage II.

“Those persons claiming to be indigenous people are only selfish for themselves by opposing the implementation of the (JRMP) Stage II and not for the benefit of the whole IPs living in the Bukidnon indigenous cultural community in three upland barangays in Calinog, Iloilo,” said Leopoldo Caballero, a tumandok and chieftain of the indigenous cultural community in the area.

An area comprising a total of 1,748.89 hectares out of more than 10,000 hectares, was declared by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as the IP communities in barangays Garangan, Masaroy and Agcalaga in Calinog with an Original Certificate Title signifying Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title No. RO6 –CAT-1204-028 and considered as the Bukidnon tumandok communities.

The National Irrigation Administration is building on the site a P11.2-billon mega dam project of the National Government and has already made several consultations with them.

There is definitely no IP house in the area that will be affected by the project, said Caballero and his other brothers who are all respected members of the nine-man Council of Elders.

The Caballero children namely Federico, Leopoldo, Romulo and Rodolfo are sons of the late national artist Precisosa Caballero recognized by the National Historical Commission as the chantress of the Hinilawod Epic of Panay starting from the famous barter of Panay up to the settlement of the Malayan datus in central Panay.

Eldest son Federico inherited the title as a national artist.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed on May 31, 2012 establishing the parameters of the area to be affected by the project. But Caballero said the dam site and the highland canal are not within the croplands of the IPs and there is no dislocation of residents.

The area is considered as GMA or Barangay Garangan with 146 households, Barangay Masaroy which is the farthest upland barangay with 77 households, Barangay Agcalaga which is located at the lower portion of the uplands, has 20 households.

Only 15 percent of Masaroy and Garangan without houses will be affected by the dam while Agcalaga, which is located across the dam, will host the road going to the upper portion, the IP chief said.

Under the MOA, the Council of Elders and Leaders represented by Rene Casiple, Leopoldo Caballero, Roger Castor, Romeo Diaz, Joel Caballero and Jimmy Lastrilla represented the First Party. The NIA represented the Second Party and NCIP as the Third Party.

Some of the activities shall also be conducted in Barangay Cahigon, Alibunan, Hilwan, Supanga, Marandig and Guinbunyogan of Calinog, and Sto Gibuangan, Barangay Panuran, Barangay Agsirab and So. Badiangan, Barangay Jayubo, Lambunao.

The Second Party shall recognize only the decision of the Council of elders and Leaders of the first Party and will avoid the interference of the local and national politicians especially in the implementation of the study.

The Second Party will respect the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Protection Plan (APSDP) of the First Party and incorporate its management plan especially on their plans affecting the management of resources within the ancestral domain of the First Party.

Caballero said as direct stakeholders of JRMP II, they recognize the benefits and progress the project will bring to the IPs to help them with their crop irrigation. The roads are being expanded and it is a big boost to their lives and for their crops, poultry and livestock in bringing to the markets.

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