A Philippine congressman on Thursday called on Japan to put pressure on Japanese organizations funding the San Roque Dam in the Philippines to make sure that environmental considerations are taken into consideration.

Speaking to journalists at the Environment Agency, Philippine Congressman Ronald Cosalan said he had asked the government to verify whether Japanese public funds poured into the project — estimated at $750 million — meet environmental guidelines issued by the Japan Bank for International Corporation.

Cosalan is concerned that his constituents, some 500 families who live upriver from the project, will be forced to leave due to siltation of the river and fears that they will not be adequately compensated for their land and livelihoods, as the guidelines require.

“Indigenous people want to stay in their ancestral lands. I worry that the indigenous communities (upriver) will be driven away by the siltation of the river and their rice fields will be lost to the silt,” Cosalan said.

The San Roque Dam, scheduled to be finished in 2002, is being built on the lower stretches of the Agno River in Pangasinan Province in the north of the main island of Luzon.

with money mainly from the JBIC and Japanese commercial banks.

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