By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte green-lit the construction of the China-funded New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam, saying the structure would be the last resort for Metro Manila to have water.
In a speech in Digos City, Davao del Sur, President Duterte assured to pay and relocate the indigenous peoples (IPs) who will be affected by the project which will be constructed in areas in Rizal and Quezon provinces.
“I can give you a little bit of an elbow room to move. Itong mga nakatira doon (Those who are living there), they are, of course, they are all natives. They are trying to delay the project by… And we need water,” he said Monday.
“This will be the last resort to have water for Manila. I will order them to go ahead and we will pay the natives and we will relocate them,” he added.
Duterte last expressed support for the project in October this year, citing the water crisis that hit Metro Manila this year. He, however, insisted that the project should have safeguards.
In an interview, Duterte said that, while people have the right to protest, he would rather have people have water than none at all, following complaints about how the project will destroy the environment.
“So kayong concern ninyo, local governments ganoon, it will pollute. I will just say to the, kung sinong mag-ano (So if your concern is it will pollute. I will just say that whoever’s in charge), you just place the safeguards,” he said Monday evening.
“It might create some danger or damage but that is not my concern. My concern is the welfare. Ganito ‘yan, the greatest good for the greatest number. That is democracy,” he added.
The Kaliwa Dam project in Tanay, Rizal is facing opposition from environmental groups and local officials, saying it would displace Indigenous Peoples and will have an adverse effect on the environment.
Earlier, Malacañang said the government can still rescind its contract with China for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project if it would be proven that the project is disadvantageous for the country.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has also questioned the selection of the contractor for the Kaliwa Dam project, saying the results of its bidding was in the “guise of being a competitive procurement process.”