DENR’s ECC to Kaliwa dam, certificate of its approval to destroying environment, people’s culture – Anakpawis, fishers group

DENR’s ECC to Kaliwa dam, certificate of its approval to destroying environment, people’s culture – Anakpawis, fishers group

Manila, Philippines – The Anakpawis Party-list and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) both expressed indignation on the recent issuance of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the heavily-opposed Kaliwa dam project in towns of Rizal and Quezon provinces, the groups said in a joint press statement.

“We hold the Duterte government for this advancement of mass desecration of indigenous people’s rights and environment. This is part of a grand scheme to fulfill the interest of ruling bureaucrat capitalists and China to the P18.7 billion dam project,” the groups said.

Anakpawis and Pamalakaya-Pilipinas supported the opposition of the Agta, Dumagat and Remontado tribes led by Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (Balatik) and Katribu, and various sectors in General Nakar and Infanta towns in Quezon province.

“If this project pushes through, the Duterte-China syndicate will expose itself further as destroyer of people’s culture and environment. Colluding environment officials are also putting themselves into facing ton-loads of legal cases, as indigenous people communities are screaming of irregularities in the holding of the Free-Prior-and-Informed Consent (FPIC) proceedings,” former Anakpawis lawmaker Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said.

It was reported that two more barangays in Rizal has yet to hold the FPIC consultation, while three of five clusters in Quezon expressed their strong opposition to the project. The Indigenous Political Structure of Dumagat-Remontado tribes in Tanay Rizal cried irregularities in the FPIC process, such as the failure to effectively explain the proposed project to indigenous communities, a flawed process of clustering and consensus building, and the alleged bribery of the proponent tolerated by the National Commission on Indigeous People (NCIP).

Moreover, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the P18.7 billion Kaliwa dam project as negotiated from the start involving the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and Chinese firms such as the China Energy Engineering Corp. Ltd. (CEEC).

“This project reeks of anomaly, from the bidding process to the holding of the FPIC. We urge the people to flood in the streets to protest against this multi-billion peso dubious project,” Casilao urged.

For his part, fisherfolk leader Pamalakaya-Pilipinas National Chairperson Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, also a former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker, said that the DENR appears to be in a phase of consenting to anti-environment projects.

“Malaking pagbalikwas ito sa kanilang mandate na dapat sila ang nagsusulong ng proteksyon ng kalikasan. Halos kahawig ito ng pag-isyu ng ECC sa Silvertides at hindi pagkontra sa Aerotropolis project sa Bulacan, sa Sangley Point, Kawit at Bacoor, Cavite. Ito ay kabaligtaran ng Manila Bay Rehabilitation program, pero kinukunsinti nila. Nilalantad nito na peke ang pamamahala ni Sec. Roy Cimatu, at kakutsaba lang siya sa pagsira sa kalikasan sa bansa,” Hicap slammed.

(This is a total turnabout from their mandate to protect the environment. This is akin to the ECC issuance of Silvertides reclamation and non-opposition to the Aerotropolis project in Bulacan, in Sangley Point, Kawit and Bacoor City, Cavite. This is on the opposite track of Manila Bay Rehabilitation program, but they tolerate the projects. This exposes Sec. Roy Cimatu as a collaborator in destroying the country’s natural environment.)

For the past few weeks, the Pamalakaya-Pilipinas has been exposing reclamation projects in the southern part of Manila Bay, particularly in Bacoor City, Cavite City and Kawit town. Unidentified proponents have been reclaiming fish ponds in Bacoor City, leading to the site of the 420-hectare Bacoor City Reclamation and Development Project being pushed by the local government. While the 2,700-hectare Sangley Airport project in Cavite City, and the Chinese Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) have been witnessed by the local fisherfolk to involve reclamation.

“Ang makikita sa mga proyektong ito ay palagiang involved ang China. Kasali sila sa Kaliwa dam, sa POGO at sa Sangley airport project. Bilyun-bilyong piso ang usapan dito na sasaluhin ng mamamayang Pilipino, habang ang makikinabang ay ang rehimeng Duterte at kakustaba nitong mga imperyalistang Intsik,” Hicap stressed.

(It is visible that these projects involved China. They are in the Kaliwa dam project, POGO, and Sangley airport project. These involve billions of pesos that will eventually be passed on the Filipino people, while benefitting the camp of the Duterte regime and its colluding imperialist Chinese firms.)

The fisherfolk leader summarized that these projects are comprehensively impact Filipino interests, from the very basic rights to self-determination of the indigenous peoples and protection of the natural environment, to the profound national sovereignty.

“Theses issues do not only concern the indigenous peoples and fishefolk sectors, but all freedom-loving Filipinos who refuse to be exploited by the schemes of the Duterte regime and Chinese imperialists. We call for a broad opposition to the Kaliwa dam project, as well as, reclamation projects that undermine the Manila Bay rehabilitation efforts,” he ended. ###

Graphics from DENR-EMB and MWSS.

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