By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is hoping to start the construction of the controversial Kaliwa Dam in the latter part of the year, saying they are now just waiting for the design of the dam to be finished.
In an interview with Communications Assistant Secretary JV Arcena, MWSS Administrator Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said the design phase of the dam will be completed in six months.
“We are now in the design phase. It will take about six months and until such time that we agreed on the design and the approval of the design, we will proceed with the construction,” he said Wednesday.
“The dam should be completed in a period of three years but we also have another concern [about] building the pipeline [which will take] two years or less. So it is about three to five years of the program of building the dam,” he added.
Salamat said it was more important for the MWSS to address all issues, especially on the indigenous peoples (IPs) and environmental requirements, before they proceed with the construction of the project.
“We are in our two legs, bent, to really make sure that we will follow the necessary process and compliances for all the clearances that we need to go through to comply. All the other requirements for the IPs and other requirements that are being asked by the Environmental Compliance Certificate,” he said.
President Duterte approved the construction of the China-funded Kaliwa Dam late last year, saying it would be Metro Manila’s last resort to have water. He likewise vowed to pay and relocate the indigenous peoples who would be affected by the project.
Welfare of IPs
Salamat assured that the MWSS was addressing the concerns of the at least 400 IPs affected by the project.
He said the MWSS is now starting to formulate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the IP organizations and a Comprehensive Integrated Development Program (CIDP) for them so their concerns, necessary requirements, and issues that should be met will be addressed.
“We will create an environment favorable for the IP. All packages of support and assistance will be incorporated and put in place in that memorandum of agreement,” Salamat said.
Once the consensus-building stage with the IPs and the MOU are completed, Salamat said the IPs would be relocated to a community where they can start their new lives.
“We will make sure that we will provide the community resettlement area. It’s not just about providing them housing, but providing them a community, facilities that they will need in order to exist in a new resettled area,” he assured.
“But our engagement with the IP community will not stop there. We will continue to engage with our IP community and address their concerns. This will be a continuing engagement,” he said.
“As long as we have the construction, even until the construction of the dam and its operation, we will continue to engage with our IP community,” 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.