Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment called for an immediate investigation into the reported “railroading” of the construction of Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province.
“This last-minute railroading of the [community approval] is a hallmark of the [President Rodrigo] Duterte regime’s pro-China, pro-big business fiesta while we have been suffering the COVID pandemic,” said Leon Dulce, Kalikasan national coordinator.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) have reportedly been holding negotiations with indigenous communities in the areas affected by the project since January 24.
In a statement, the STOP Kaliwa Dam Network said tribal leaders in Quezon province were invited to attend a discussion on the validation of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and community royalty development program (CRDP) in the communities.
A 2020 audit report by the Commission on Audit noted that the MWSS has proceeded with the implementation of the dam project without proper documentation.
Last year, the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples unanimously agreed to issue a cease and desist resolution to the MWSS and China-based contractor China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited.
The dam, which is funded through a loan from China, is expected to add 600 million liters per day to the water supply of Metro Manila.
Communities in the provinces of Rizal and Quezon will have to relocate once the project is completed.
Meanwhile, Kalikasan called on candidates in the coming elections to make the implementation of the project an electoral issue.
“We challenge all opposition and independent electoral candidates to speak out and commit to stopping this patently illegal and onerous Kaliwa Dam project,” Kalikasan’s Dulce said in a statement.
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