A view of the Agos River in the Philippines A view of the Agos River in the Philippines 

Filipino indigenous leader renews call against ‘destructive’ dam project

The leader of a Filipino indigenous group renews his appeal to the Philippine Government to halt the Kaliwa Dam project that has forced indigenous families to flee from their ancestral domains.

By Zeus Legaspi

A Filipino tribal leader has renewed his appeal to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to stop the construction of the controversial New Centennial Water Source–Kaliwa Dam Project (NWCP-KDP) that will reportedly displace some 56 indigenous families from their ancestral land.

“My appeal to President Marcos (Jr.) is for him to hear us, tribesmen, and discontinue the Kaliwa Dam (project),” said Marcelino Tena, in an interview with Vatican News on Thursday.

Tena is the president of the Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta-Dumagat-Remontado sa Pagtatanggol at Binabaka and Lupang Ninuno (SAGUIBIN-LN) – an organization composed of indigenous peoples who are currently leading the protests against the dam’s construction.

“There are alternative sources of water for Manila which will not affect the community and the environment and relocate tribesmen,” he added.

Tena claimed that his group wants the Philippine President to divert his focus from the China-backed project to pursuing other sustainable sources of water, though he did not specify which ones.

“Snubbed” protests

Tena’s appeal came after President Marcos, Jr. “snubbed” the indigenous peoples’ previous call to stop the project through a peaceful nine-day protest which saw around 300 tribespeople with other advocates marching 150 kilometers from General Nakar, Quezon to the Malacañang Palace, the President’s official residence in Manila, in February.

They were hoping to meet the Chief Executive and talk to him directly regarding the matter but were reportedly “ignored.” Despite this, Tena said that their peaceful protest was successful because it made the Filipinos aware of their plight.

Even after their continued protests spanning years, the tribal leader said that construction still continued and is making huge progress at present.

He added that his group’s next step is to continue communicating with the local government unit of the towns involved in the project for a cease-and-desist order against the project.

The NWCP-KDP is the Philippine government’s solution to a growing water crisis in Manila and its surrounding regions.

The dam will flood about 300 hectares of protected and forested areas in the Sierra Madre Mountain range that is home to at least 5,000 Dumagat-Remontado indigenous people.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

05 May 2023, 10:27