By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
Moving closer to obtaining the final approval it needs for the ₱12-billion Kaliwa Dam project, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said the Indigenous People (IPs) and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) of Rizal and Quezon Provinces recently adopted a resolution of consent (Resolusyon ng Pagpayag) to the controversial project.
But, the head of Dumagat-Remontado tribe in Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal denied this, saying that MWSS is “lying” and was only able to get the consent of the minority of the IP communities in both provinces.
In a statement, MWSS said that it got the ‘Resolution ng Pagpayag’ after conducting a series of consultations with the IPs, who have previously expressed their strong opposition of the project which they said would destroy their much protected ancestral lands.
To recall, MWSS needs one last approval to formally start the construction of the Kaliwa Dam, following the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) issuance of environmental clearance certificate (ECC) to the project.
This approval is the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
MWSS said that securing the ‘Resolution ng Pagpayag’ is just one of the several stages in getting the FPIC.
This means that IPs are able to conduct their own independent and collective discussions and decision-making in an environment where they did not feel intimidated, and where they had sufficient time to discuss in their culturally appropriate way, matters affecting their rights, livelihoods, knowledge, traditions, governance systems, natural resources.
“Through this Statement, the MWSS manifests that it has exerted and continue to exert extraordinary diligence imposed by law and remain cautious under all circumstances in the conduct of its business affairs in addressing the urgent need to develop a new water source for Metro Manila,” MWSS said.
In a phone interview, Marcelino Tena, Head of Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta/Dumagat, said that while the consultations indeed took place, he said that a lot of the members of the IP communities didn’t give their consent to the project.
“There are more of us who said no to the project than those who said yes. And those who said yes were invited to a separate room during the consultation meetings,” Tena said. “From the very start, we already said no to this project. Our position is non-consent from day one”.
Reacting to the ‘Resolusyon ng Pagpayag’ that MWSS supposedly obtained from the IP communities, Tena said “it’s all lies” on the part of the agency.
“I have a new resolution from the community saying that we don’t accept this project,” Tena said.