Tribe leader won’t give consent to Kaliwa Dam
LUCENA CITY—A leader of the Agta-Dumagat tribe in northern Quezon said most Dumagats could never agree to the controversial Kaliwa Dam, scotching hopes that the government project would ever get the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) required by law.
Dumagat leader Marcelino Tena of the Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta/Dumagat-Remontado na Binabaka at Ipinagtatanggol ang Lupaing Ninuno accused government agencies of conspiring against the Dumagat people so the dam could be given an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
“[But] even with their anomalous ECC, the (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System or MWSS) still won’t get our FPIC. They will never have it,” Tena said in Filipino in a phone interview on Friday.
The MWSS has yet to secure the required FPIC for the P18.72-billion dam project which the government said would be funded through loans from China.
Tena assailed the MWSS and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for “inventing” consultation reports where tribesmen supposedly manifested their approval of the project.
“They should come down here to know the truth. There were no honest consultations. The reports were all invented,” Tena said.
He also denounced the NCIP for again failing its mandate to protect indigenous peoples under Republic Act No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, which also required the FPIC.
“The NCIP is now an accessory of the MWSS,” he said, claiming that the NCIP reported that Sierra Madre tribesmen unanimously supported the dam project in six cluster meetings conducted by the NCIP.
“But of the six clusters, only one said ‘yes’ to the project. The other five strongly declared ‘no,’” Tena said.
Tena also assailed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) for its misinterpretation of the faked consultation reports, which were the basis of the ECC.
He said the tribe leaders would conduct a series of urgent consultations with different tribal communities in the first week of November.
“Definitely, we will solidify our ranks to strengthen our resolve in our continuous opposition to the dam project. There will be more militant protests and marches to come,” Tena said.
In 2009, Sierra Madre tribesmen, farmers, and religious and environmentalist groups walked 148 kilometers from General Nakar, Quezon, to Manila in a nine-day protest march that dramatized their opposition to the controversial project.
Dam to address water crisis
The MWSS has long been pushing for the construction of the dam to address a projected water crisis in Metro Manila.
Last week, the DENR-EMB issued an ECC for the project amid fierce opposition from environmental groups and indigenous communities that decried its risks and irregularities.
The project would submerge parts of the Sierra Madre in Tanay town, Rizal; and General Nakar and Infanta towns in Quezon.