PARACELIS, Mountain Province – The Cordillera office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR) commended the municipal government led by Mayor Jose Amangyen for taking the cudgels of funding the conduct of the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process to secure the support of indigenous peoples in the implementation of a multi-billion irrigation project in the town.
Engr. John Socalo, NIA-CAR regional irrigation manager, said funds for the P2 billion Small River Irrigation Project (SRIP) in Botigue has not yet been included in the budget of the agency because of the absence of the consent of the affected indigenous peoples in the area.
However, Socalo revealed NIA was able to secure the consent of the indigenous peoples who will be affected in the upper portion of the proposed irrigation facility, particularly in Natonin town, but the provincial office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) required that NIA secure the consent of the affected indigenous peoples in the lower portion of the project.
“We were able to address the issues and concerns raised by the indigenous peoples in the upper portion of the project but we were also required to secure the consent of the indigenous peoples in the lower portion of the facility which we were supposed to do amidst the absence of funds in our budget for such purpose,” Socalo stressed.
The NIA-CAR official funds for the irrigation project will only be included in the agency’s budget through a multi-year obligation once the affected indigenous peoples will give their consent to the project that will benefit over 2,000 farmers in Natonin and Paracelis towns.
According to him, initial funding for the project was included in the budget of the agency several years ago but the problem on the consent of affected indigenous peoples stalled the implementation of the project, thus, NIA officials opted not to include the budget for the project in their future funding requirements until such time that the NCIP shall have conducted the FPIC process and the indigenous peoples shall have given their consent to the project.
Socalo expressed his gratitude to Mayor Amangyen for assuring that the local government will fund the conduct of the FPIC process in order to gain the consent of the affected indigenous peoples since he was able to foresee the benefits the project will bring to the local agriculture industry and the potential income to be derived by the farmers from their produce.
He claimed the NIA-CAR will extend technical assistance to concerned agencies and the municipal government in the conduct of the FPIC process to respond to concerns of the people related to the put up of the irrigation project along one of the major river systems connecting the towns of Natonin and Paracelis.
Socalo disclosed similar SRIP have already been implemented or are currently being implemented in other provinces in the region and the affected indigenous peoples can look into these projects for their evaluation.