By Madelaine B. Miraflor
After months of haggling, some lot owners in Teresa, Rizal finally gave in to the offer of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to sell their lands to the Philippine government to pave way for the development of the ₱12-billion Kaliwa Dam project.
“The long process of negotiation with the lot owners of Teresa, Rizal, have finally reached fruition after 10 of those who were offered agreed to sell their properties to MWSS,” said MWSS.
The lots will form part of the project site for the construction of the water treatment plants and tunnel outlet component of the Kaliwa Dam project.
Part of the New Centennial Water Source Project (NCWSP), the Kaliwa Dam project involves the construction of a massive dam in the provinces of Quezon and Rizal that will have a capacity to treat as much as 600 million liters of water per day (mld).
The project, pegged by the Duterte Administration as the biggest solution to the recurring water supply issue in Metro Manila, was awarded to China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) and will be funded by the Chinese government through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) deal with the Philippines.
In compliance with the Republic Act (RA) 10752 or the Right-of-Way Act, MWSS said it engaged the services of Landbank of the Philippines to appraise the market value of the lots that will be affected by the project.
“The market value is defined as the estimated amount for which a property should be exchanged between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arms-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion,” MWSS said.
“[This is] a far contrast to expropriation act of a government taking privately owned property against the wishes of the owners,” it added.
This development came weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte said he will exhaust his ‘extraordinary powers’ allowed by the Philippine constitution in order to get the controversial Kaliwa Dam project going.
He said this after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) moved to issue the project its much sought Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), which was faced with strong opposition by environment groups and some local government officials who think their constituents will be negatively affected by the dam’s construction.
The problem is that some Indigenous People (IP) communities in the provinces of Rizal and Quezon fear that they will be displaced because of the project, while local government officials think the construction of a 60-meter-high dam in their areas could result to flooding.
Because of this, the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) has not yet issued its go signal for the dam’s construction.
On Monday, MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat said the government’s dialogue with IP communities in the areas is ongoing, but he declined to comment when asked if he thinks the NCIP can come up with a decision within this year.