ILOILO CITY, April 2 (PNA) — Hoaxes and other issues surrounding the implementation of P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project (JRMP) II in Calinog town here were clarified Wednesday in a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Provincial Capitol.

One of these issues is the report that the high dam could kill thousands of people because the project sits on top of an active fault line in the region -– West-Panay fault.

But Arturo Daag of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the dam is safe and 9.8-kilometer away from the fault line.

In fact, Philvolcs has issued a certification that the dam is not prone to ground rupture hazard that may be caused by the movement of an active fault line.

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Regional Director Gerardo P. Corsiga also explained that the concrete-filled dam is designed to withstand 8.5-magnitude earthquake.

“In the past, NIA also constructed large dams that are even closer to an active fault line like the Pantabangan and Magat Dams in Luzon. And until now, these dams are structurally sound,” he said.

Unlike JRMP II, Pantabangan Dam is an earth-filled embankment dam on Pampanga River in Nueva Ecija, while Magat Dam is a rock-filled dam on Magat River at the boundary between the municipalities of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao and Ramon in Isabela.

“Let us not fear that this project would bring devastation among our people. Instead, rest assured that each and every aspect of JRMP II is carefully studied for our benefit and safety,” he said.

Another issue about the project is the displacement of the indigenous people (IPs) living near Jalaur River as shown in the recent socio-economic and cultural impact assessment of the project.

Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. is also concerned of this matter knowing that 543 households will be directly affected once the project is pushed through.

“I am supporting this project since the beginning for we have been dreaming about this for so long. But if this project will only add misery to our people, I will be the first to oppose it,” he stressed.

However, Leo Hilado, one of NIA’s consultants, told the governor that they have prepared a relocation and housing plan for the affected families.

So far, he said they have identified potential areas for relocation but they still have to negotiate it with the land owners.

The design for the housing units, on the other hand, has been done and this will cost around P180,000 each.

JRMP II will directly affect nine barangays in Calinog namely: Garangan, Masaroy, Agcalaga, Marandig, Guinbonyugan, Binolusan Pequeño, Alibunan, Toyungan and Cahigon.

The nine barangays have a total land area of 8,734 hectares and 16 percent will be affected. Of the number, 11 percent or 970 hectares will be partially submerged and the five percent or 176 hectares will serve as buffer zone.

“The plan is to reforest this area in the buffer zone in order to sustain the life of the dam and the land owners affected will be properly compensated,” he explained.

NIA will start the construction of JRMP II once the needed permit from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is secured. (PNA)