January 31, 2022
MANILA – The desperation of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to railroad the Kaliwa Dam project strengthens the peoples’ unity against the said destructive program.
IPs’ organizations, led by Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU), IPs’ rights advocates, and defenders of the environment under Network Opposed to Kaliwa, Kanan, and Laiban Dams (NO to KKLD) protested in front of the MWSS’ office, January 31.
They opposed the railroading of the Kaliwa Dam project and the recently concluded week-long activity by the MWSS and NCIP in General Nakar, Quezon province.
"MWSS and NCIP continue to disrespect and neglect the non-consent decision of the majority of the Dumagat people on the dam project. The manipulation of the FPIC process also manifests MWSS and NCIP’s desperation to implement an anti-people program," Rei Paulin, National Coordinator of KATRIBU, said.
Paulin also added the need for Metro Manila to address its water security issue. However, he emphasized that the concern should not compromise the state of the environment.
"We recognize the water security problem in some parts of Luzon. Still, this matter should not compromise the rights and welfare of Indigenous Peoples and the status of our environment," Paulin added.
During the activity from January 24-29, 2022, MWSS and NCIP conducted the anomalous MOA validation of the Kaliwa Dam project amid Alert Level 3 due to the pandemic.
The agencies barred the Dumagat people from joining the discussion and negotiation for the MOA signing and workshop on the Community Royalty Development Plan. The Dumagat people said that the NCIP invited them to negotiate. However, during the day of the negotiation, officials required them to present negative Antigen Test Results. NCIP did not mention the requirement in the invitation, according to the prohibited individuals.
Rodrigo Piston, Indigenous People Mandatory Representative from Lower Pagsangahan, General Nakar, Quezon, denounced the local government of General Nakar, Quezon, for allowing such activity amid the Alert Level 3 due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Members of the affected community claim that such activity put them at risk amid the threat of the COVID-19 virus.
“We are under Alert Level 3 due to the COVID-19. Still, the NCIP proceeded with the negotiation. We, in General Nakar, condemned this activity amid the pandemic. Individuals from other affected communities also opposed the railroading of the program,” Piston said.
Meanwhile, the NCIP is notorious for manipulating FPIC processes. In the case of the Kaliwa Dam project, the commission selected “leaders” from the community to join the MOA validation. Genuine FPIC requires genuine community participation. The opposition of the affected communities to the exclusivity of the MOA validation questions the process’ legitimacy. Hence, NCIP’s selection of “leaders” for the process violates the Dumagat people’s collective rights to self-determination.
Piston also condemned the presence of members of the Philippine National Police during the negotiation. He reiterated his community’s goals to protect the environment and secure their ancestral lands from the destructive state project.
“We are not criminals, murderers, and thieves. We are expressing the truth and the impact of the destructive Kaliwa Dam project to our children in the future,” Piston added.
During the mobilization, Kakay Tolentino, National Coordinator of Bai Indigenous Women’s Network, supported the call of the Dumagat people in their struggle for the protection of their fundamental rights.
“We stand in solidarity with the Dumagats in opposing the implementation of the Kaliwa Dam project. We call on the government to stop all destructive projects across the country. Defend the rights of our IPS! Save our environment!” Tolentino emphasized.
On the other hand, NO to KKLD urged candidates for the 2022 May Elections to stand with the Dumagat people in opposing the Kaliwa Dam project.
"We challenge all candidates for the upcoming elections to join the struggle for the protection of the environment, livelihood, and rights and welfare of the Filipino people,” NO to KKLD said.