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Statement on MOA signing for Kaliwa project

Members of the Stop Kaliwa Dam Network during a press conference in 2019. Credit: Stop Kaliwa Dam Network.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the controversial China-backed Kaliwa Dam project was signed by purported community representatives in January this year. Kaliwa Dam threatens to inundate communities and compromise biodiversity health in the Sierra Madre. The Sierra Madre helps break strong typhoons, shielding Metro Manila and contiguous areas from certain devastation. The MOA signing was facilitated by the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage Systems (MWSS) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), according to a report in the Philippine Star.

Reacting to the MOA signing, Atty. Ryan Roset, direct legal services coordinator of LRC, which assists a Dumagat-Remontado community opposing the project, said:

“The signing of the MOA contravened laws governing the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples. The assembly organized for the signing did not include representatives identified by the Indigenous communities themselves. According to our sources, representatives allowed into the venue were those who had signified agreement to the project, and those who registered opposition to the project were deliberately left out.”

“In fact, the community questioned the very idea of holding the consultations when COVID-19 infections at the time were surging. The government ought to have postponed the consultations on this basis alone.”

“What’s more, members of the military were present during the signing. While no use of force was reported, the presence of the military nevertheless sowed fear in the hearts of the community.”

“Based on these assertions, we call into the question the validity of the MOA and call on the NCIP to quash the MOA and plan a more organized series of consultations that involves genuine community representatives, following protocols prescribed by law.”

“MWSS must remember that the House committee on indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples had last year issued a resolution for MWSS to suspend activities within the territories of the Dumagat-Remontado and other communities.”

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