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San Roque Multipurpose Project, Philippines

The largest dam in the country left thousands of farmers without land and irrigation and brought violence and extrajudiciary killings. Read here the story of the project and courageus defenders like Apo Jose


The San Roque Multipurpose Project is the largest dam in the Philippines and one of the most controversial projects funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) [4]. Located on the lower Agno River of Pangasinan Province, in the Cordillera region of Luzon Island in the Philippines, thousands of indigenous people were displaced during its construction. Despite failure to comply with several Philippine laws and JBIC policies on indigenous people, and despite strong opposition from local communities, San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam, approved in 1998, became operational in May 2003.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:San Roque Multipurpose Project, Philippines
State or province:Pangasinan
Location of conflict:Municipality of San Manuel
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The San Roque Dam has a height of 200 m above the existing river valley floor, and a reservoir of 850 million m2. It is a central clay-core rockfill dam with a compacted fill volume totalling nearly 40 million m3. The drainage area is 1,250 km2. It should generate 345 megawatt of electricity and irrigate 87,000 hectares of land [2,14].

Project area:85,000
Level of Investment:1,190,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:4,000-5,000
Start of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:Philippines National Power Corporation (NCP) from Philippines
San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) from Philippines
International and Finance InstitutionsJapan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC) from Japan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Cordillera People´s Alliance
Peasant Movement to Free the Agno River (TIMMAWA)
International Rivers Network (IRN)
Friends of Earth
Shalupirip Santahnay Indigenous Peoples Movement (SSIPM)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
indigenous Ibaloi people
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Increase in Poverty in the area. In 2006, Jose Doton, or Apo (grandfather) was felled by an assassin’s bullets on May 16, a martyr in the people’s fight against the San Roque dam. He was secretary general of the Pangasinan chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (new patriotic alliance or Bayan) and chairperson of several organizations, among them the Tignay dagiti Mannalon a Mangwaya-waya ti Agno (Peasant Movement to Free the Agno River or Timmawa), San Nicolas Farmers Federation and San Nicolas Gold Panners Federation, Inc.
Apo Jose is among the eight hundred fifty eight (858) victims of extrajudicial killings against activists under the Arroyo regime’s Operation Plan Bantay Laya (Freedom Watch). His case was filed in court, was brought up with the Task Force Usig and officially filed at the United Nations Human Rights Council
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The committee having jurisdiction over the the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of the Philippines (IPRA) issued a final report admitting that the project had been implemented without the consent of the indigenous people.
People affected by involuntary resettlement were allowed to choose between compensation in the form of cash or substitute housing. The SRPC introduced a livelihoods program for people affected by resettlement, but they were not a great success. Today, the lives of affected people are getting worse year by year. In Kamangan substitute community where 180 households settled after the project, around 50 households had to sell or rent out their houses because of poverty in 2010 [2].
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Rivers Watch East and Southeast Asia (RWESA), International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth Japan (2003). Development disasters. Japanese Funded Dam Projects in Asia.
[click to view]

Yu Terashima ()Dams in the Philippines and in Thailand: Social and Environmental Impacts of Natural Resources Development Projects. Multiple modernities: globalization in Asian context.
[click to view]

Nile Basin Initiative (2008). Review of Hydropower Multipurpose Project Coordination Regimes. Best Practice Compendium.
[click to view]

ECA Watch (2005). A Trojan Horse for Large Dams. How export credit agencies are offering new subsidies for destructive projects under the guise of environmental protection.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Rexnord, Process and Motion control. The San Roque Project. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

National Power Corporation. San Roque Dam (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

Empowering communities to plan for their future, by Dr. Giovanni Tapang. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

Social Impact AssessmentonSan Roque Multi-Purpose DamProject, by Hideyuki Kurita. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

CPA calls for Decommissioning of San Roque Dam at Public Hearing Conducted by Senate Committee on Climate Change in Pangasinan. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

Cordillera People´s Alliance. CAMPAIGN VS. San Roque Dam, other mega dams. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

Philippines: The San Roque Hydro Project. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

San Roque dam was opposed 10 years ago. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

CPA condemns killing of Pangasinan peasant leader (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

[1] Bulatlat - Dam Nation: A Bloody History of Struggle Against Dams - Alexander Martin Remollino October 17, 2009
[click to view]


Pangasinan Martyr

Jose Doton: People’s Champion Vs. San Roque Dam
[click to view]

Dam the Rivers, Damn the People: San Roque Dam, Philippines by MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN, Probe International. (accessed 19/07/2015)
[click to view]

Other documents

Portrait of Apo Jose Source:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Raquel Piñeiro Rebolo. Máster en Gestión Fluvial Sostenible y Gestión Integrada de Aguas, Asignatura ‘Ecología política y gestión de Aguas’.
Last update27/02/2017
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