By Robert Vergara, March 21 2019; CNN Philippines
Image Credit to CNN Philippines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — A Dumagat tribe leader on Thursday cried foul over the alleged lack of proper consent for the construction of the China-funded Kaliwa dam in Quezon province.
Marcelino Tena, president of Samahan ng mga katutubong Agta/Dumagat, lamented that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System did not properly secure the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the tribe that will be affected by the project.
“Nung ipinasok ang programang centennial dam na ‘yan sa Kaliwa, hindi nila dinaan sa tamang proseso ang FPIC.. nagsuri sila ng tubig, nagmarker na agad sa site ng dam, naglagay na ng access road papunta sa site ng dam,” Tena told CNN Philippines’ On The Record.
[Translation: They did not follow the right process to secure FPIC, they already assessed the water, marked the construction site, and constructed an access road going to the site.]
“Sabi nila kinikilala ang FPIC sa mga katutubo at dapat kumatok sa tahanan bago pumasok sa aming lugar, pero ang nangyayari ngayon hindi na eh, binabraso na kami, hindi lang pati braso tadyak na pati ang ginagawa samin,” he added.
[Translation: They said they recognize the FPIC of indigenous peoples and that they should knock on the door before entering our homes, but it’s not what’s happening; they are forcing, even kicking, us.]
According to Tena, the project will displace an estimated 10,000 members of the Dumagat tribe.
He added that the water regulator has also not provided them with documents regarding the project such as the engineering design.
“Alangan namang magbigay ako ng FPIC hindi ko alam ang lagay ng dokumento,” he said. “Totoong wala po kaming pinag-aralan pero may mga partner po kami na handang tumulong samin kung ano ba ‘yung proyekto.”
[Translation: I would not give my consent if I do not know the content of the documents. Yes, we are not educated, but we have partners who help us understand the project.]
The MWSS, however, refuted Tena’s claim.
During the program, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said the project will affect only “about 46 families.”
Velasco added that the agency had also conducted several consultations with those who will be affected by the construction.
“Marami na kaming series of meeting, pwera pa ‘yung dalawang beses akong nagpunta dyan sa Infanta para pag-usapan ang mga problemang ito,” he said.
[Translation: We have conducted a series of meetings, not to mention the two times I visited Infanta, Quezon to discuss the problems.]
Velasco added that the MWSS has yet to finalize the design of the project.
“Itong project na ito ay design and build, so walang mabibigay sa kanila kasi hindi pa nasa-submit, for final approval ‘yung design, hopefully matapos ‘yan by May,” he said.
[Translation: This project is a design and build, so we cannot provide them a copy yet because the design has yet to be finalized. Hopefully the design is done by May.]
Velasco assured the affected residents that the MWSS will follow proper procedure for the project.
“We are aware of the process, hindi po namin isho-shortcut ang process (we will not shorten the process),” he said.
The construction of Kaliwa dam has been in the drawing board since 1970’s. In May 2014, the National Economic and Development Authority approved the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, but it was only last year when the initiative received a go-signal from President Rodrigo Duterte.
During the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jin Ping last November, the Asian giant agreed to shoulder ₱12.2 billion or around 64 percent of the ₱18.7-billion of the total project cost through the official development assistance grant. It was among the 29 deals sealed between the two countries during the historic visit.
The debates on the project resurrected when portions of Metro Manila and Rizal experienced water interruptions for more than a week.
The 60-meter dam is seen as additional source of water for Metro Manila, providing 600 million liters of water per day.