STATEMENT | On the railroading of the destructive Kaliwa Dam project
The Panaghiusa Philippine Network to Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ Rights expresses its strong solidarity with the Dumagat-Remontado communities and stands firmly for their right to ancestral domain against the China-funded New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project (KDP) of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
The human rights crisis in the Philippines includes violations of Indigenous Peoples' (IPs) rights. International bodies like the United Nations (UN) and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) recorded bastardization of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), red-tagging, and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) among indigenous communities.1
The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights released a statement in its June 2020 report on “large scale projects despite non-consent from indigenous communities” and red-tagging. Dan Tan of the ICJ reported in a legal briefing (January 31, 2022) that this has reached “greater intensity under the Duterte Administration.”2
On the criminalization of IPs’ rights to ancestral domains, 92 EJKs, 160 frustrated EJKs, 227 illegal arrests, 27 cases of torture, and six cases of enforced disappearances have been documented.
Meanwhile, the London-based Global Witness Report (September 13, 2021) ranked the Philippines “as the deadliest country in Asia, and the third deadliest in the world.”3 This January 24, 2022, alone, 24 US Congressmen pointed out, “State forces use of red-tagging, a practice in which activists and human rights groups are demonized... leading up to targeted assassinations without cause.”4
A recent European Parliament Resolution issued on February 17, 2022, cited “waves of killings of political activists, human rights defenders, environmentalists, Indigenous Peoples...”5
The Dumagat-Remontado stood firmly against the KDP amid human rights violations. The Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights revealed that five out of six community clusters in Quezon province rejected the project. However, last January 2022, KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong mamamayan ng Pilipinas received reports that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System gathered over a hundred National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-selected Dumagat for the Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) validation.6
The January activity prevented several members of the Dumagat-Remontado tribe from participating. The pivotal role of the NCIP cannot be overemphasized. This institution mandated to protect IPs' rights facilitated an event amid Alert Level 3 due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic and without the genuine participation of affected communities as part of their FPIC guaranteed by national and international laws.
The Philippine Congress' Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples also issued a Cease and Desist Order warning that “FPICs in both Rizal and Quezon were not consummated” and that “continuing operations with regard thereto is tantamount to a violation of existing laws, in particular R.A 8371 (IPRA), wherein the rights of our ICCs/IPs are enshrined.”7
The New Centennial Water Source-KDP is a $22 million Chinese-funded project with a 2% high annual interest on top of a USD 2M spending from the national treasury. The project's construction will affect the ancestral domain of Dumagat-Remontados in Rizal and Quezon. The project purports to address the increasing demand for water supply in Metro Manila with a “recent water crisis”8 used to justify the project.
Issues on KDP
Irreplaceable environmental and social costs
In 2020, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the MWSS after issuing a Notice to Proceed to the project's Chinese contractor,9 despite pending compliance with environmental guidelines. COA noted that submitted documents did not include the names of recognized tribal leaders or elders who could confirm the signees' identities.
The project will affect the ancestral domain of at least 5,000 indigenous Dumagat-Remontados. It will destroy the biodiversity and habitat of 126 species in 300 hectares of Sierra Madre and endanger 100,000 residents downstream with the risk of massive flooding. Besides entailing a 10.37 billion peso loan, failure to pay will possibly cede the country's resources.
Unviable and Expensive
An earlier evaluation study made by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) warns that the Kaliwa Dam could face “a possible short dam lifespan” due to the high sedimentation rate. NEDA further emphasized that the project’s rate of return (i.e. 18%-20%) was hardly above the government passing rate of 15% economic evaluation” and “did not account for environmental and ecological costs as well as social and heritage costs.”10 ###
1 Daron, Tan. “Danger in Dissent: Counterterrorism and Human Rights in the Philippines.” International Commission of Jurists. January 31, 2022. The Geneva-based ICJ is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. It has a consultative status with the UN.
2 Op Cit
3 Global Witness Report. “Last Line of Defense.” September 13, 2021.
4 Wild, Susan et. al. Letter to Hon. Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State, US Department of State and Hon. Janet Yellen, Secretary of Treasury, U.S Department of Treasury. Congress of the United States, Washington D.C. January 24, 2022.
5 Arena, Marie. Chairperson, Sub-committee on Human Rights. Paragraph G, “European Parliament Resolution on the Recent Human Rights Development in the Philippines.” 627 out of 705 Members of The European Parliament approved the resolution. February 17, 2022.
6 Community Royalty Development Plan activity. Paaralang Sekundaryo ng Heneral Nakar and Central Elementary School in General Nakar, Quezon Province. January 24 to 29, 2022.
7 Mangaoang, Allen Jesse. Chairperson, House Committee on ICCs/IPs in a letter to the Board of Trustees of MWSS. Mitra Building, House of Representatives, constitution hills, Quezon city. June 14,
8 Save the Sierra Madre Network Alliance. “ Stop Kaliwa Dam, Save Our Future!: A Petition to President Rodrigo Duterte to Revoke the Kaliwa Dam Project. Bit.ly/stopkaliwadam. Undated.
9 China Energy Engineering Company, Inc
10 Rappler. “Is the Kaliwa Dam Actually Viable?” June 1, 2019. Rappler cited an earlier NEDA Evaluation Study made in October 2013.
11 1. Sumar River Diversion Project (3.25); 2.Bayabas Dam (7.02); 3. Maasim Dam (6.62); 4. 50 MLD Wawa Dam (8.39); 5. Laiban Dam (6.94); 6. Kanan No. 2 Dam (7.20); 7. KALIWA DAM (9.28); 8. Agos Dam (6.25); 9. Taayabasan River Water Supply (6.98). World Bank/MWSS Metro Manila Water Security Study. 2012.