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.”

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