DENR issues ECC for Kaliwa Dam project

Jonathan de Santos, Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DENR issues ECC for Kaliwa Dam project
Residents of Sitio Queborosa in Infanta, Quezon survey a stretch of the Kaliwa River where a planned dam will be built. Construction of the dam will mean they will have to move either to higher ground or to a relocation site.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 7:31 p.m.) — The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System has obtained an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Environment department’s Environmental Management Bureau for the proposed P18.7-billion Kaliwa Dam project.

The certificate is one of the requirements, including the free and prior informed consent of indigenous Dumagat communities that will be affected by the project, for MWSS and contractor China Energy Engineering Corp. to proceed with the China-funded project.

EMB Director Metodio Turbella on October 11 issued the ECC, which covers the construction and operation of a gravity dam along Kaliwa River in Rizal and Quezon provinces.

The ECC allows a project to proceed to the next stage of project planning, which includes securing approvals from other government agencies.

“With the issuance of this ECC, you are expected to implement the measures presented in the environmental impact statements intended to protect and mitigate the project’s adverse impacts on community health, welfare and the environment,” Turbella said in the ECC.

The certificate was issued after proponents submitted an Environmental Impact Statement, which is a “comprehensive study of the significant impacts of a project on the environment.”

“However, you may proceed with the project implementation only after securing the necessary permits from other pertinent government agencies. Environmental considerations shall be incorporated in all phases and aspects of the project,” the EMD director also said.

"Non-compliance with any of the provisions of this certificate shall be sufficient cause for its cancellation and/or imposition of a fine in an amount not to exceed [P50,000] for every violation thereof," the ECC also reads. 

PHOTO ESSAY: Agos River: Where life flows for the Dumagat people


According to the certificate, proponents must institute "and strictly implement" an Information, Education and Communication Program to inform stakeholders of measures to mitigate the project's effects on the environment, including measures for environmental disaster risk reduction.

MWSS must also submit memoranda of agreement with affected local government units for social development programs in their areas and implement proframs that will protect the cultural heritage of the Dumagats who have lived there for generations.

It must also develop an Integrated Watershed Management Plan and "ensure the structural soundness/stability of the dam through compliance with internationally accepted structural dam design standards."

According to an EMB executive summary on the project, 1,465 households in three villages in Rizal and Quezon will be affected by the project, 1,041 of which “will be at risk of flooding and other effects of possible dam failure or dam break.”

It also said 424 households in Barangay Magsaysay in Ifanta and Pagsangahan in General Nakar will be directly affected by the project.

The dam project “will also indirectly impact 56 indigenous people households and will place around 284 IP households at risk of flooding and other effects of possible dam failure or dam break.”

SPECIAL REPORT: In the abundance of water: A dam project may wash away generations-old Dumagat villages

IP heritage, livelihood

The ECC also says MWSS must "ensure that the sacred sites and burial grounds, as well as the culture and livelihood of the IPs are preserved an protected."

MWSS must also implement "mitigating measures" to protect and preserve Tinipak Spring and Tinipak White Rocks, which are sacred to the IP communities that live along the river.

During a reporting trip in August, IP leaders told Philstar.com that a majority of six community clusters were opposed to the dam project, citing concerns that they would lose their homes, their farms, and access to the river.

In a phone call on Monday, Pete Montallana, a priest and head of the Save Sierra Madre Network said that five clusters are opposed to the project against one that has said 'yes'.

The ECC stresses that work on the project cannot commence without "necessary certifications from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples prior to project implementation."

He said that the Environmental department did not seem to have given weight to concerns raised over flooding in the area and risks posed by climate change. 

"They hardly studied the things that we responded to," he said, referring to the group's response to the EIS that MWSS submitted.

He pointed out that the dam is expected to meet Metro Manila's increasing need for water for about five or six years. This, against the Dumagats losing ancestral land they have lived in for generations.

"Is that a fair deal for the IPs?" he said. 

Montallana said the network is prepared voice their opposition to the project all the way to the Office of the President.

If that fails to stop the project, he said, they will go to court.

Kaliwa Dam is meant to be a medium-term water source for Metro Manila, complementing Angat Dam, the current main source.

It is expected to add 600 million liters per day to the capital's water supply.

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