NCIP okays CP for Chico irrigation project

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BAGUIO CITY  – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc approved the grant of the required certification pre-condition (CP) to the National irrigation Administration (NIA) that will pave the way for the full blast implementation of the $$.3 billion Chico River pump irrigation project in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga that will be beneficial to thousands of farmers in the said provinces.

Commissioner Gaspar Cayat said that the Commission en banc decided to issue the CP of the multi-billion project during its regular session Thursday after members of the free prior informed consent (FPIC) team the regional review team and tribal elders from the communities in Pinukpuk that will be directly affected by the pump irrigation project clarified the various issues that were raised by cause-oriented groups against the project.

“The concerned tribal leaders and the members of the FPIC and regional review teams were able to clarify the issues that have been raised against the pump irrigation project and the Commissioners were convinced that the project will bring more benefits to the thousands of farmers who will benefit from its eventual operation,” Commissioner Cayat stressed.

NIA officials who were also present during the Commission’s regular session clarified that contrary to earlier insituations that the structures that will be built along the Chico river is a dam, what will be constructed will be a pump irrigation project that will ensure the maximum utilization of water to irrigate the farmlands of thousands of farmers who had been relying on rain to propagate their agricultural crops.

The NCIP official disclosed that tribal leaders from Kalinga, especially the directly affected areas of Pinukpuk town, were also present during their meeting and they reiterated their overwhelming support to the implementation of the irrigation project so that farmers in their places will be able to benefit from the abundant irrigation water that will be made available by the project once completed.

On the issue of alleged unpaid claimants of properties that will be directly affected by the project, he disclosed that while there was a letter complaint on the reported failure of the NIA to compensate the affected properties, the complainant already withdrew such complaint after all issues and concerns were addressed by the implementing agency wherein their claims were settled.

According to him, considering that most of the lands that will be affected and traversed by the project have an area of less than 8 hectares, the farmers who own the said lands will get subsidy from the NIA that will help in improving their production.

Earlier, the Commission ordered the suspension of the works in the Kalinga side of the project until such time that the NIA shall have secured the free and prior informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples.

Cayat added that another issue that cropped up during their discussions was the fact that those who are opposing the project are not actually from the area apart from the fact that they brought foreigners to the place to sensationalize the purported opposition to the project despite the favourable support from the affected residents.

The issuance of the CP will pave the way for the lifting of the earlier suspension that was issued on the project. By HENT

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