Dumagat tribe rejects China-funded Kaliwa Dam

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2019 05:47 PM

This structure, which locals call "Laiban Dam" in Tanay, Rizal, was built during the time of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, and will form part of the Kaliwa Dam project. Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Members of the Dumagat tribe rejected on Monday the construction of the Kaliwa Dam in the town of Infanta, Quezon, blasting its impact on the environment and their ancestral lands.

Members of the indigenous tribe who live in the Sierra Madre mountains have said that they don't want the water reservoir constructed on their ancestral domain.

Wilma Gutierrez, a representative of the tribe, said the project will displace 150,000 people in villages in Tanay in Rizal province, and General Nakar in Quezon.

"Pagtatayo po ng Kaliwa may malawakang dislokasyon na nakaamba at 150,000 dito kalakhan dito katutubong Dumagat," she said in a press briefing in Quezon City.

(The construction of the Kaliwa Dam will displace over 150,000 people, most of whom are from the Dumagat tribe.)

The dam, which costs P12.2 billion, is funded by official development assistance from China.

The area of the Kaliwa Dam is also considered as a protected area with sacred sites and burial grounds for the Dumagat tribe, Gutierrez said.

The indigenous tribe should be given the right to decide on the fate of their ancestral lands, she added.

Lodema Doroteo, another member of the tribe, decried the suppression of their rights to the Kaliwa Dam area and insisted that their elders were not consulted.

Ibon Foundation Executive Director Sonny Africa reiterated claims by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares that the financing offered by China for the Kaliwa Dam project is onerous and lopsided in favor of China.

Africa also expressed hopes that the Kaliwa Dam project will start the groundswell of opposition against Chinese loans.