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Protesters call on Koreans to stop funding dangerous, climate-damaging Jalaur dam
Activists today stormed the office of the Export Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) to demand the bank’s withdrawal from the controversial Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP II) in Iloilo and to call attention to the dangers posed by large dam projects.
“The P8.9 billion Korea Eximbank committed to funding the Jalaur dam is by far the largest development assistance extended by the Korean government to the Philippines. It is unfortunate that it will go to a project that is a nothing less than a disaster in the making. Unless it wants to become known as the bank that funded a killer dam, it must stop funding the Jalaur dam before it’s too late,” Sammy Gamboa, Secretary General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, a broad coalition of activists and peoples organizations said.
FDC said that JRMP II poses grave risks to the public as it will be built in close proximity to the West Panay fault and in an area that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has declared as landslide-prone.
“The West Panay Fault caused one of the most destructive earthquakes in Philippine history. The magnitude 8.2 “Lady Caycay” earthquake of January 25, 1948 in west-central Philippines was the second biggest earthquake ever recorded in the country. How can we justify building a mega dam only 11 kilometers from this active fault when the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake which struck on October 15, 2013 caused extensive damage to Loon, Bohol which was 44 kilometers away from the quake’s epicenter in Inabanga town?” Gamboa queried.
FDC also revealed that apart from submerging four indigenous peoples’ villages and displacing thousands of people, JRMP II will also produce greenhouse gases which cause climate change.
“Studies have already shown that large dams are also significant emitters of greenhouse gases, including methane which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. If we build another mega dam like the planned Jalaur dam, we will be contributing to the climate crisis that has produced intense weather phenomenon like Typhoon Yolanda which devastated huge parts of the Visayas in 2013,” Gamboa said.
Typhoon Yolanda, said to be the strongest storm to have ever made landfall, struck the Philippines on November 8 2013 causing an estimated 6,300 deaths, damaging or destroying 1.1 million houses and displacing 4.1 million people, many of whom remain in refugee camps.
“We must look deeper into the loan deal that the P-Noy administration signed with Korean Eximbank. What “sweeteners” did our government dangle to get the Koreans to fund this ill-advised project? It is obvious that either Eximbank failed to conduct due diligence in looking at the risks and potential impacts of the Jalaur dam or they simply didn’t care as long as they profited from this loan,” Gamboa added.
According to FDC, Korea Eximbank has a long history of financing dirty energy projects such as development of oil and gas as well as mining under its Natural Resources Development facility as well as nuclear and hydropower development under its Green Finance facility.