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DESPITE ASSURANCE OF RELOCATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

MWSS should pursue alternatives to Kaliwa Dam – Bayan Muna

/ 08:03 PM January 05, 2020
Kaliwa River

As their forebears have done, the Dumagat traverse the Kaliwa-Agos River in Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta, Quezon, as part of their daily routines. The government is planning to dam the Kaliwa River to make it into an alternative water source for Metro Manila, but the project will mean inundating what the Dumagat consider their ancestral domain. (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – Party-list group Bayan Muna urged the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to look for other water sources instead of relying solely on the controversial Kaliwa Dam, which may displace hundreds of indigenous people (IPs).

Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares slammed recent statements of MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat, who assured that IPs would be relocated.

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“[Salamat’s statement is] premature and is trying desperately to downplay the ill effects of the project not just to the IPs but to the environment and the Philippines’ sovereignty as well,” Colmenares said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“Such statements by Administrator Salamat make it obvious that they are pushing the Kaliwa Dam project even though they have not studies the many other alternatives, despite its effects — the displacement of indigenous people, the destruction of nature, and the sale of the sovereignty of the Philippines,” he added in Filipino.

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Colmenares also noted that several other communities might also become prone to flooding because of the New Centennial Water Source Project (NCWSP).

“Affected communities, consumer networks and environmentalists are opposed to the NCWSP because of the massive displacement of communities and destruction to the already critical Kaliwa watershed in the Sierra Madre,” he explained.

“We are also concerned about possible flooding of low-lying areas should the dams need to release excess water in times of heavy rains especially with the impact of climate change wreaking havoc in our weather system,” he added.

The Kaliwa Dam, a project that would be funded through Chinese loans, has drawn mixed reactions from the public.

People supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration believe it would be the solution to Metro Manila’s water woes — which resident experienced in the summer of 2019 when water levels at the Angat Dam and La Mesa Dam dwindled.

Government officials also insist that creating another water source to support Metro Manila’s booming population is the way to go.

However, critics have raised several points about the Kaliwa Dam — including the Commission on Audit observation that the project was awarded to a Chinese firm that skipped several requirements.

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Fears also escalated when retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that China could seize patrimonial assets like Reed Bank if the Philippines could not pay back its loans — including those that would be needed for Kaliwa Dam.

READ: Water supply shortage? China-funded Kaliwa Dam would ‘absolutely’ help, says Dominguez

READ: COA: China firm got Kaliwa project though lacking requirements

“We question the need for more large dams because they are situated in critical watershed areas,” Colmenares said.

“Large dams aggravate flooding in low lying areas during the onset of typhoon season and causing billions of pesos in damage to agriculture and fisheries, business establishments, properties and public infrastructure. At worst, lives are lost,” he noted.

/atm

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, Emmanuel Salamat, Indigenous people, IPs, Kaliwa dam, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, MWSS, NCWSP, Neri Colmenares, New Centennial Water Source Project
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