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PENAMPANG – The local Church prayed with villagers affected by the mega dam project recently.
“Like Paul to the Ephesians, I too want to call you on today, as people of faith, that you must stay united and do not be easily influenced by anything that could weaken your unity.”
With words drawn from the liturgical readings, Fr Wiandigool Runsab encouraged the 300 villagers, who were gathered for a Mass, to stand for their rights by living out the words of Scripture on 11 May 2016 inside a community camp located within a blockade area at Kg Ponuhoun, Timpayasa. After Mass, Fr Runsab went on to bless the blockade ‘houses,’ which were built by the villagers on a gotong-royong (cooperative) basis.
The villagers were those who would be directly affected by the Kaiduan Dam project, and are from Timpayasa, Babagon Laut, Terian, Tiku, Buayan, Pongobonon, Kalanggaan, Longkogungan and Timpangoh.
To bring awareness to these communities, representatives from Kg Tampasak Baru, Babagon were also present that day to share their experience when the Babagon Dam was built 20 years ago, about the effects of the project, as well as the consequences of relocation.
“Besides the negative impact on aspects such as social, economic, psychological and emotional, there are many promises of compensation made by the authority that have not been fulfilled until today. Now, a new problem has arisen among the younger generation; there is no land to build new houses for the increasing population of families in the villages. Besides that, there is also no fund to maintain the run-down existing houses,” said one of the villagers from Kg Tampasak Baru.
Also present to give their support were Archdiocesan Human Development Commission, Catholic youths from St Michael parish and youths from Kg Tampasak. Non-Governmental Organisations such as PACOS, JOAS, TAKAD, PANSA and Tonibung also lent support by their presence there.
The event was attended by Moyog Assemblyman Terence Siambun, and Member of Parliament Darell Leiking,who also gave their words of encouragement and support to the villagers. Leiking said, “Continue with your fight but fight in a Christian way because our utmost help comes from God Himself.” – AHDC