STATEMENT | COA’s report supports the peoples’ call vs. state’s destructive programs
The Commission on Audit (COA)’s flagging of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) over its decision to push through with the implementation of the P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon Province corroborated the decades-long call of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the area—to halt the construction of the massive destructive program in the province.
In its 2020 annual audit report, the COA stated that the MWSS proceeded with the said project without proof of compliance with environmental requirements and submission of necessary permits.
A news report in 2019 said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) already issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate to the MWSS. However, according to COA, the MWSS failed to prove that they secured the preconditions set by the DENR. These include an approved reforestation program, waste management plan, integrated watershed management plan, comprehensive social development plan, ancestral domain and cultural heritage sustainable development plan, and cultural heritage protection
plan. Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights also raised concern over alleged fabricated consultations and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from the IPs in the same year.
The lack of these necessary documents and permits reiterates the state’s neglect of the rights of the IPs to their land, life, and resources. Instead of addressing the needs and recognizing the peoples’ fundamental rights, the state continues to implement destructive programs that negatively affect various communities. The state should focus on addressing the need of IP communities for accessible and quality social services rather than funding such projects across the country.
Meanwhile, the Panaghiusa Philippine Network recognizes the water security problem in Metro Manila. Still, this concern should not discredit the rights of IPs to their ancestral lands and compromise the state of natural resources in some areas.
The network also supports the auditing body’s findings on various government agencies’ misuse of funds. These agencies, including the MWSS, must be held accountable for their misconduct.
We urge the Philippine Government to heed the peoples’ call to stop implementing large destructive programs and halt current anti-people projects in different regions. Such acts could prevent the massacre of our natural resources and acknowledge the fundamental human rights of the Filipino people. The state must respect the IPs’ right to their territories and end the plunder against their ancestral lands and resources.#