Tribal group protests diversion of river
Ramil Bajo, Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Members of an indigenous tribe based in northern Luzon staged rallies in front of the United States embassy and at the Liwasang Bonifacio yesterday to protest the diversion of the Casecnan River to boost the water supply of the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija.

Nagtipunan, Quirino Mayor Rosario Camma – overall chieftain of the Bugkalot tribe, whose members are spread throughout Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora provices – called on Ambassador Philip Goldberg to remind the US firm California Energy Casecnan Water and Energy Co. Inc. of its promise to pay the Bugkalot a share of the proceeds of the dam project for the use of the water from the river.

The dam was meant to irrigate 50,000 hectares of farms in Central Luzon and generate 140 megawatts of power. CECWECI is operating the project on a build-operate-transfer arrangement.

The Casecnan multi-purpose irrigation and power project, started in 1995, has neither irrigated a square meter of land cultivated by the Bugkalot nor has the tribe benefited from the electricity generated by the dam, Camma said.

The diversion of the water has caused the Casecnan River to dry up, causing the Bugkalot, who depend on fishing, to lose their livelihood. 

The Bugkalot hit the National Irrigation Administration for claiming that the project only diverts excess water from the Casecnan and Taan Rivers to the dam.

He said that 10 percent of the water must be released to the river in order to protect the environment.

Based on NIA and CECWECI’s agreement, the firm would only use 1.6 percent of the total volume the rivers’ water, measured at 49 billion cubic meters, Camma said.

AMBASSADOR PHILIP GOLDBERG BUGKALOT CALIFORNIA ENERGY CASECNAN WATER AND ENERGY CO CAMMA CASECNAN AND TAAN RIVERS CASECNAN RIVER CENTRAL LUZON LIWASANG BONIFACIO NATIONAL IRRIGATION ADMINISTRATION NUEVA ECIJA NUEVA VIZCAYA
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