NCIP urged to block Kaliwa Dam amid community opposition
A man fishes for his dinner on the Kaliwa River, where the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System is planning to build a dam.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

NCIP urged to block Kaliwa Dam amid community opposition

(Philstar.com) - October 24, 2019 - 6:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Party-list representatives on Thursday called on the National Commission on Indigenous People to stand with the Dumagat people in Rizal and Quezon who are opposed to the construction of the multibillion-peso Kaliwa Dam project.

The Environmental Management Bureau issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate for the project earlier this month, bringing the project closer to implementation.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the proponent of the China-funded project, also needs to get the Free and Prior Informed Consent of the Dumagat communities whose ancestral domain will be affected by the dam.

"Many of the families who will be affected are Dumagats and the NCIP's stand on this will show if it is really defending the communities, livelihoods and homes of indigenous peoples," Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a member of the Manobo people, said.

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."

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."

The MWSS, in its Environmental Impact Statement, acknowledged that parts of the Dumagat ancestral domain, including culturally important sites like a burial ground in Sitio Queborosa in General Nakar in Quezon, will be inundated when the dam is built.

Under the ECC, which was issued on October 11, 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.

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

Pete Montallana, a priest and head of the Save Sierra Madre Network, told Philstar.com on Monday five IP community clusters are opposed to the project against one that has said 'yes'.

"The NCIP should not sign the Free Prior and Informed Consent or any document that allows the destruction of homes and the environment for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam," Cullamat said.

"With the granting of the Environmental Compliance Certificate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources it seems that the Duterte administration is hellbent to push through with the Kaliwa dam even if it located over a fault line, it would displace the Dumagat people, destroy thousands of hectares of watershed areas and even if there are other less destructive options to supply Metro Manila with water like the rehabilitation of the Wawa Dam," Rep. Carlos Zarate said.

According to the EIS submitted by MWSS, "the major engineering structures of the project are not susceptible to ground rupture due to their significant distance from the active Philippine Fault and the active Marikina Fault."

The two lawmakers, along with other members of the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives, filed a resolution in July calling for hearings on the dam project.
It has been pending at the Committee on Rules since then.

"We hope that the House leadership would immediately schedule a hearing for the measure and hear the voices of the Dumagat people and other sectors that would be affected," Zarate said.

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