Kaliwa Dam permit put on hold, a victory for environmentalists — group


Kaliwa Dam permit put on hold, a victory for environmentalists — group

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), along with other environmental and indigenous rights groups, celebrated the recent decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to put on hold the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the controversial Kaliwa Dam project.

Last October 11, during the hybrid briefing on its proposed 2023 budget at the Senate, the DENR’s Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo said that his office put the ECC of the P12.2-billion, China-funded dam on hold because it has yet to comply with zoning requirements.

The dam is being constructed within a Protected Area in the General Nakar, Quezon part of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

“This is a victory and one step forward in the decades-long resistance to the destructive dam. We continue our calls for the full stop to the dam’s construction, the cancellation of its onerous contract, and the junking of all future plans to build a large dam in any part of the Sierra Madre mountain range,” said Jon Bonifacio, Kalikasan PNE’s National Coordinator.

“For many years we have been saying that constructing a dam in the Sierra Madre will threaten its unique biodiversity and displace the Dumagats, who are not only rightful owners of their ancestral domains there, but who have also been the protectors of the Sierra Madre forests for centuries.”

The country’s longest mountain range also serves as a barrier to the onslaught of strong westward winds of most typhoons that hit the country every year.

At the height of super typhoon Karding late in September, tens of thousands of Filipinos expressed a massive outpouring of awe for the role that the 540-kilometer mountain range plays as a buffer against climate-change-strengthened super typhoons.

The Kalikasan PNE coordinator also pointed out that “large dams are out,” with even the World Bank itself noting that these large structures cause more destruction than benefits.

“Like other large dams, the Kaliwa Dam will disrupt the ecosystems of the Kaliwa-Kanan river, threaten the unique biodiversity of this area of the Sierra Madre, and also presents a hazard because of its proximity to two active faults, the Philippine Fault Zone and the Valley Fault System. It will also submerge huge tracts of the Dumagat people’s ancestral lands,” the national coordinator said.

One of the projects in the previous Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build priority plan, the Kaliwa Dam will be built with loans from the Chinese government and constructed under the supervision of Chinese companies.

While the dam itself is located in Quezon province, a 27.7 km-water conveyance tunnel will also be built to transport the water to Teresa, Rizal through forested areas of the Sierra Madre.

Since the 1980s, all past Philippine administrations have sought to dam the Kaliwa-Kanan-Laiban river complex, identifying this as the source of water to meet the continuously increasing demand from Metro Manila and surrounding Central Luzon. Water demand is forecast to increase with the continuously increasing Filipino population and unending migration to Central Luzon’s urban centers.