A House committee on Wednesday approved a resolution calling for certain agencies involved in the Kaliwa Dam Project to cease activities inside the affected ancestral domain of the Dumagat or indigenous peoples.
The committee on indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples sought to stop the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and other agencies from engaging in any work in the relevant area until a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is completed.
"This committee is not anti-development. We support the government’s efforts to utilize our water resources and harness the gifts of nature,” committee chairman and Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang said, adding that the committee stands for responsible exploration and utilization of natural resources.
An FPIC is a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said on its website.
That right allows indigenous peoples "to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories."
The House panel convened on Wednesday to continue its deliberation on the two resolutions calling for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, regarding the Kaliwa project.
House Resolution 15 by BAYAN MUNA Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, called for an inquiry into the alleged water crisis and the revival and effects of the construction of the Kaliwa and the Laiban Dam projects.
Meanwhile, House Resolution 309 by Rizal Rep. Juan Fidel Felipe Nograles seeks to investigate the New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa Dam Project and the alleged anomalous award to China Energy Engineering Co. Limited.
Mangaoang said in a previous meeting that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples informed the panel that the FPIC will be conducted in Quezon.
"Some members of this committee expressed their desire to put the FPIC on hold temporarily, thus appealed to the NCIP to give the public hearing the congressional courtesy pending the findings therein," Mangaoang added.
He explained that the purpose of the appeal “was not to further delay the inevitable but rather to sit down with the NCIP officials and the IPs because we wanted to get to the bottom of the wishes of the affected communities and we want to help them communicate those requests.”
Mangaoang said they received information that the NCIP pushed through with the FPIC process and the community declined when it voted against the project. — With a report by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
FROM THE ARCHIVES