Kaliwa Dam to negatively affect Quezon, Rizal provinces–German-funded CSOs
THE Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), a network of 250 civil society organizations (CSOs), rights groups, peace and faith-based institutions, said it is “joining the call to altogether stop and abandon the plan to build” the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project (NCWS-KDP).
The proposed NCWS-KDP “is a threat and perhaps a disaster waiting to happen to Quezon province and some parts of Rizal province that might even annihilate the Dumagats and Remontado tribal people living in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges,” PMPI said in a statement issued on Thursday.
The project, being part of the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration to be financed by China, is a P12.2 billion ($231 million) mega dam that aims to ensure water supply for the fast-growing Metropolitan Manila and surrounding areas.
The NCWS-KDP will be constructed inside the declared Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve, under Proclamation 573, series of 1968 and under Proclamation 1636 in 1977.
The PMPI believes the dam will drown 291 hectares of forest from the total 9,800 hectares in Infanta Kaliwa Watershed, including the sacred site of Dumagat-Remontado in the areas of Tinipak in Barangay Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal province. The dam construction will endanger the rich biodiversity in the Sierra Madre and also adversely affect the whole ecosystem in the surrounding areas including the symbiotic relationship between the tribal people and their ancestral lands, the PMPI said.
“We do not agree that in the name of development, our brother and sister IPs should be sacrificed and displaced from their ancestral lands if ever these dam projects will push through,” PMPI National Coordinator Yolanda R. Esguerra was quoted in a statement as saying. “We are against any form of development that would sacrifice the lives of other living species in the forest and river ecosystem. We need to take into account the rights of people and Mother Nature in any development plan and projects.”
Esguerra said PMPI calls on the local government, particularly the Executive Committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Region 4-A (Calabarzon), which endorsed the proposed multibillion peso dam project to heed the voice of its constituents.
There were many opposition from various environmental groups and indigenous peoples (IPs). The rights of the Dumagats and Remontados have been violated when they were deprived of a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as required by Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 by the ongoing construction of the access road from Sitio Kamagong, Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta up to Sitio Queborosa, Barangay Pagsangahan, General Nakar, both in Quezon province.
Also, the said proposed project would essentially violate RA 7586, since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has yet to issue an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).
“Thus, we strongly ask President Rodrigo Duterte to rescind the loan agreement he officially signed with Chinese President Xi Jinping last November that will fund the project,” PMPI said.
“We are against it, because many lives will be at risk and livelihood will be affected. The proposed 60-meter high Kaliwa Dam will be constructed within a zone of two active tectonics represented by the Philippine Fault Zone and the Valley Fault System. We do not oppose the government’s Build, Build, Build program per se, but these will endanger and displace many people,” PMPI Southern Tagalog Cluster Point-Person Conrado Vargas said. “Even a country like Japan with their technology and all, were caught flat-footed when the 2011 earthquake hit them.”
Instead of building mega dams, the government and its primary water agency like the MWSS should look into alternative ways to manage our water resources toward a more sustainable and ecological way, the PMPI said.
For example, the use of deep tunnel sewerage system to convey used water by gravity to centralized water reclamation plants and used water is treated and further purified into ultraclean, high-grade reclaimed water like what the Singapore did to its water system.
“That is more economical than constructing mega dam,” Vargas added. “Other ways are rehabilitation of Wawa dam and Pasig-Laguna river basin, desiltation of Angat Dam and also the restoration of the deteriorating forest covers of the Sierra Madre ranges that serve as our watershed should be the government’s top priority.”