CITING displacement and livelihood impact, the Swamp Farmers Association Inc. (SFAI) has opposed the implementation of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) flood control project.
Through a letter of appeal directed to De Isagani Cayme, OIC district engineer of the Benguet Engineering District of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-BED), the SFAI is seeking to prevent the putting up of the said flood control project, which would cause displacement and loss of livelihood for the association’s members.
SFAI legal counsel Lawyer Richard Kilaan said that the project must be terminated as there was no prior consultation, knowledge or consent from either the Benguet State University (BSU) or the SFAI of the project.
“Be it noted that the property where you intend to implement the flood control project is the property of BSU, and our client, the Swamp Farmers Association Inc., has an existing lease contract with BSU. Hence, their prior consent is needed before any project or undertaking is to be implemented in the property,” the letter read.
The letter of appeal seeks to have the DPWH-BED to terminate the ongoing project and transfer it elsewhere, where it would benefit other residents.
According to SFAI president Peter Bulangen, the members were blindsided by the DPWH who arrived with construction materials and told them to vacate the area.
“We are worried. Where will our member farmers get money to feed their families now that they are telling us to stop farming and give way to the project?” Bulangen asked.
“In the past, we have formally requested for the dredging of the canals, most especially downstream, and that was years ago. We grew tired of waiting for the grant of our request and also got discouraged following up the request that we already forgot about it. Then, a few days ago, the DPWH informed us that we should vacate our farms because of this project,” he said.