For years, environmental and indigenous groups have continually opposed the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project. However, the danger is more imminent as the concern for water supply in Metro Manila increases. The recent “water crisis” was then used to expedite and justify the Kaliwa Dam Project as the most viable “solution” despite other existing alternatives.
We call on the President and leaders to revoke the Kaliwa Dam project for the sake of indigenous peoples’ rights, their land’s biodiversity, and our sovereignty due to the following drawbacks:
The project violates legal processes and would displace thousands of indigenous peoples. The target construction site would fall within an ancestral domain, where at least 5,000 Dumagat-Remontados are situated. Around 300 of them would be directly affected once the construction begins, aside from those who would be forced to evacuate eventually. The project has until now failed to secure the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from them, as shown by allegations that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), and some local officials are manipulating and railroading the legal processes. Despite the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act protecting the indigenous communities’ right to a Free, Prior and Informed Consent process, a number of IPs from the affected barangays in Tanay, Infanta, and General Nakar would be forced to leave their ancestral domain, which is the source of their livelihood and identity.
The project will cause long-term, irreversible environmental damage to the Sierra Madre and its biodiversity. The project falls within the Kaliwa Watershed, which is a declared forest reserve and national park and wildlife sanctuary, and will, therefore, violate the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, and the Expanded NIPAS Act. At least 126 species, including the critically endangered Philippine Eagle, will lose their natural habitat, while 300 hectares of forested area in the Sierra Madre will be permanently flooded.Issues on securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reflect how the project proponents have been encountering problems with complying to the requirement of minimizing the environmental impact of the dam. Moreover, around 100,000 individual lives will be put at risk with increased chances of heavy flooding in downstream areas.
The project will initiate a loan from China whose terms are onerous and unnecessary. Ultimately, the debt would be paid by all Filipinos, including those not from Metro Manila. Based on the signed loan agreement, the Kaliwa Dam project will require a loan of at least 10.37 billion pesos running on a high yearly interest of 2%, as well as an upfront spending of around 2 billion pesos from the national treasury. In a 2012 study, even the World Bank concluded that the project was not economically viable, and could prove disadvantageous for consumers in the long-run. If we fail to pay within China’s terms, provisions in the loan, specifically those waiving Philippines’ immunity on the grounds of sovereignty, might end up surrendering the country’s assets and resources. Ultimately, this loan and the project consequently places our sovereignty at an alarming risk and compromises our constitutional rights.
While we recognize that Metro Manila has legitimate concerns on water security, these should not be addressed at the expense of human rights, our environment, Philippine laws and sovereignty.
The government has the responsibility to protect its people from environmental harm and provide long-term solutions to respond to the needs of all its people, not only in Metro Manila.
REAL solutions to the water crisis
To ensure water security in Metro Manila, a dam cannot deliver this alone. There is need to explore all viable solutions that will create the least adverse impact to the environment and our people.
With various experts’ insights, there are many alternative and more sustainable solutions:
Watershed forest conservation: Conserving forests in existing watersheds like Angat and La Mesa is not only more cost effective but will ensure continued water supply for Metro Manila and nearby provinces for years to come.
Repairing and improving existing dams: Rehabilitate existing water reservoirs and strengthen the implementation of efficient water distribution systems and facilities.
Protect and rehabilitate degraded watersheds: Protection & rehabilitation is known as an affordable, practical, and preemptive solution in ensuring sustained water supply in Metro Manila and other areas. Using native tree species ensures the persistence of indigenous flora and fauna to sustain ecological services effectively.
Repairing and improving water distribution facilities: Improving services of water concessionaires by reducing their non-revenue water lost to leakages in water pipes is another economical solution yet to be earnestly considered.
Explore and apply new technologies: Recycling water is yet another viable, but unexplored answer to the issue. There is a need to review the use of potentially 80-85 percent of used water that is released as wastewater. This could be treated and used for agricultural and landscape irrigation, and industrial processes, among others.
Applying and strengthening water conservation policies: The devolution under the Local Government Code of 1991 is also deemed as an important alternative that grants the local government units with the central role in the provision of water supply and sanitation services to their constituents.
We, the people, say NO to Kaliwa Dam, and YES to alternatives!
This petition is an initiative of the STOP Kaliwa Dam (Sectors and Peoples Opposed to Kaliwa Dam) Network. This network is composed of the following organizations and institutions and partner movements:
Haribon is committed to finding solutions to our envirmental problems pellentesque sem metus. Donec egestas ex nec imperdiet pretium.