Home Equality & Justice Philippine indigenous peoples protest work on controversial dam projects

Philippine indigenous peoples protest work on controversial dam projects

The groups called on the government to recall the Memorandum of Agreement for the Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province

Indigenous peoples groups in the Philippines this week condemned what they described as the “railroading” and the manipulation of the implementation of controversial dam projects in Quezon and Apayao provinces in the northern part of the country.

“The collusion between project proponents in railroading and manipulating [Free, Prior, and Informed Consent] processes for projects within indigenous communities manifests the desperation of these (government) agencies to implement destructive projects, regardless of its negative impacts to Indigenous Peoples,” said Kakay Tolentino, spokesperson of the Network Opposed to Kaliwa, Kanan, and Laiban Dams.

Tolentino told an online press conference on February 3 that the FPIC “is part of our self-determination as indigenous peoples” and “is not merely a requirement and procedure.”



The groups called on the government to recall the Memorandum of Agreement for the Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province and the Certification Precondition for the dam in Apayao.

They claimed that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System violated the rights of the people “while manipulating the process” FPIC to get the Certificates of Precondition.

The MWSS carried out a validation of the agreement in the communities for the Kaliwa Dam from January 24 to 29.

“We condemned this activity amid the pandemic and called for its postponement,” said Rodrigo Piston, representative of the community in the area. He claimed that majority of the indigenous people in the area are opposed to the project. 

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“This is our ancestral domain. The government already recognized that. We should be the ones deciding, and our decision is no. No to dams,” said community leader Budin Balalang.

The dam in Quezon province, which is funded through a loan from China, is expected to add 600 million liters per day to the water supply of Metro Manila.

The Kaliwa Dam project, proposed by the government in 2012, is one of several bulk water supply projects on the upper portion of the Kaliwa River watershed.

A US$235.9 million loan from China will underwrite the project.

The proposed dam is part of the “New Centennial Water Source” program, which aims to ease persistent water shortage woes for Metro Manila’s nearly 13 million residents.

The dam project reportedly threatens to displace at least 11,000 families living across the 28,000 hectares of land, not including those living in more established towns.

It will also submerge almost 300 hectares of forest ecosystems, threatening 126 endemics, and endangered species of plants and wildlife.

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