Duterte on Kaliwa Dam: The greatest good for the greatest number
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

Duterte on Kaliwa Dam: The greatest good for the greatest number

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - October 28, 2019 - 7:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is considering the "extraordinary powers of the presidency" for construction on the planned Kaliwa Dam in the provinces of Rizal and Quezon to start sooner, citing water shortages that Metro Manila is facing.

This, despite opposition from Dumagat communities whose ancestral domain will be affected by the project and who are opposed to it.

Environmental groups also warn that flooding caused by the dam will displace or kill species that live in the area.

The president said stakeholders can protest or go to court, but he would still mull the use of police power to confiscate the land.

"I could not just allow to go about without water ever for drinking. Kung ‘yung concern ninyo (If your concern is) local governments, ganon, it will pollute, it will destroy, I will just say to the, sa kung sinong mag-ano ... you just place the safeguards," Duterte said.

"My concern is the welfare. The greatest good for the greatest number. That is democracy," he said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier Monday said there is an ongoing probe into the controversial Kaliwa Dam, which the Commission on Audit earlier said may have violated bidding rules, but there is no timeframe for the release of the findings.

The Environmental Management Bureau has issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate for the project but the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has yet to certify that the project has Free and Informed Prior Content from Dumagat communities there. FPIC is a requirement for projects on ancestral domain. 

READ: Kaliwa Dam: Dumagats fear losing homes, culture to sate Manila's thirst

'Shape up or ship out,' water concessionaires told

Malacañang on Monday also warned water concessionaires that their failure to address the looming water crisis could compel the president to take “drastic action” against them.

“[E]ither tanggalin niya iyong kontrata, may binanggit siyang ganoon noon eh (Either remove the contact, he said something about that previously)…[or] make them accountable,” Panelo said, citing the suggestions of Sens. Imee Marcos, Bong Go, and Francis Tolentino.

Water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad last week announced their implementation of rotational service interruptions as a result of receding water levels at Angat and Ipo dams.

“There has been scant rainfall at the Angat and Ipo watersheds over the past few days, resulting in the continuous decline of raw water levels in the Angat and Ipo Dams,” Maynilad said in a release last week. 

“And since raw water allocation from Angat Dam for Metro Manila and adjacent provinces is still at the reduced level of 40 cubic meters per second (cms)—versus the normal allocation of 48 cms—the volume of raw water entering our treatment facilities is short by around 250 million liters per day.”

Areas affected by Maynilad’s water interruptions include Caloocan, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Manila, Malabon, Makati, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon City and Valenzuela in Metro Manila; Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite; and Meycauayan in Bulacan.

Meanwhile, Manila Water-affected areas are Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan and Taguig in Metro Manila; and Angono, Antipolo, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Jalajala, Rodriguez, San Mateo, Taytay and Teresa in Rizal.

“Well, the message again is shape up or ship out! Shape up or ship out...Kung hindi n’yo kaya eh umalis na kayo (If you can’t handle it, then just leave),” Panelo said.

“[I]f indeed they have not done anything despite the fact that there was a crisis before and now it is being repeated again, then the president may consider that factor.”

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

March water crisis

Duterte in March threatened to fire officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and terminate the contracts of Maynilad and Manila Water in response to the water crisis.

“The meeting which was more of a presidential monologue lasting for about 40 minutes abruptly ended by the President ordering the officials to submit a report on the water shortage before April 7, after which he will decide whether heads will roll or whether the contracts of the concessionaires will be terminated,” Panelo said in a March 20 press release.

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