MANILA — In observance of the “World Day of Social Justice,” indigenous peoples (IP) groups and rights advocates on Monday marched towards the office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Quezon City.
The marchers said they are protesting the Kaliwa dam Project of the government as it may submerge the ancestral land of the Dumagat Remontado tribes.
According to Kakay Tolentino, coordinator of BAI Indigenous Women's Network, the construction of the dam will result in their forcible displacement from their ancestral land, loss of livelihood, fishing grounds and sacred sites.
“Ang layunin ng protests ay para ipahayag ang ating pagtutol laban sa Kaliwa dam ng NCIP at lalo ng implementor ng dam na MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System). Kami ay papaalisin, ililipat ang ating tahanan," she said.
"Sabi ng aming ninuno, ang Sierra Madre ang ating tahanan, pinagbilin na ipagtanggol namin hanggang sa mga susunod na henerasyon," she added.
In a Zoom interview with the regional hearing officer of NCIP Region 4-A, Atty. Josefina Agusti said that those who will be directly affected by the construction of the dam will be relocated through the Land Acquisition and Resettlement Plan (LARP).
The NCIP added the affected tribes gave their consent to the project after more than 7 years of convincing.
“Umabot din ng 7 years and 6 months... Ipinaliwanag sa kanila... hanggang sa napapayag sila," she said.
Authorities even explained to the tribes that contrary to their belief that the construction of the dam will cause flooding, NCIP said the dam can even help control flooding in Infanta and Real, Quezon.
"Ngayon na walang dam mas mabilis ang flash flood sa area. Dahil ito ay watershed," she said.
In the process, the MWSS will continue to give the tribes their annual share of the gross income from water production.
NCIP added that the timetable for the construction of the Kaliwa dam depends on the MWSS, which is expected to start mid-2023.
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