DENR questioned on ‘highly irregular’ environmental clearance for Kaliwa Dam

A Dumagat woman by the river. (Photo by Marya Salamat / Bulatlat)
For all that it will destroy, Kaliwa dam will only produce 600 million liters of water daily. Yet, there are many alternative sources of water such as the 1.5 billion liters of water daily if government will rehabilitate the Wawa dam.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The government has not yet finished consulting with the Dumagat and the rest of the people most affected by the Kaliwa Dam project but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) already issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for Kaliwa Dam.

This angered the representative of the indigenous peoples in Congress, Manobo leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat. In a statement, Cullamat questioned the DENR’s lack of genuine, public consultation and seeming lack of regard for the environment. The government has yet to produce and present the free, prior and informed consent of the affected parties.

Thousands of hectares of forested land will be destroyed to build Kaliwa Dam, and, Cullamat said, not only the Dumagat but the unique ecosystem in that part of the Sierra Madre mountain range will be destroyed in the project.

The P12-billion Kaliwa Dam project is part of the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build project to be financed by Chinese loans, which critics said is lopsided and in favor of China.

The Kaliwa Dam project also covers a portion of the river in Sierra Madre that the Dumagat and the peasants have defended against similar dam projects for the last four decades now.

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Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares also slammed the DENR for issuing an Environment Compliance Certificate despite lacking important requirements. He said it is “highly irregular.”

“How can the Chinese contractor and MWSS [Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System] issue an affidavit of no complaint, a requirement for the issuance of ECC, when there were many complaints lodged against it?” asked Colmenares.

The Dumagat people of Rizal and Bayan Muna, for example, had filed a case against Kaliwa Dam before the Supreme Court. If this is not enough of a complaint for the DENR, Colmenares said the affected local government unit also cannot possibly certify that Kaliwa Dam is compatible with its land use plan because it covers ancestral domain and it will have negative impacts on the health, safety and environment of the indigenous peoples and their lands.

Bayan Muna asked the DENR to immediately revoke the ECC. It reminded the government agency that the dam project can and should be shelved, benefiting the people and the environment as a result, and we will still have sufficient water.

“For all that it will destroy, Kaliwa dam will only produce 600 million liters of water daily. Yet, there are many alternative sources of water such as the 1.5 billion liters of water daily if government will rehabilitate the Wawa dam,” Colmenares said. ()

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