AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People stands firm against the imminent construction of the New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project. The 12.2 billion mega dam project is set to displace thousands of Indigenous Peoples of Quezon and Rizal, rid local communities of their livelihood and culture, and cause irreversible harm to the ecosystems and ancestral rainforests of Sierra Madre.
MWSS greenlighting the development of the New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project despite the peoples’ protests on its grave environmental and socio-cultural implications only goes to show how the ordinary Filipino people are treated as an afterthought when it comes to profit-oriented development. As of August 2022, the China-funded deal has already cost the Filipino people a total of P45.782 million in commitment fees to the Export-Import Bank of China.
Further, it is unscientific to pursue the controversial mega dam project when socially-just and environmentally-sound alternatives exist. To deliberately choose the option with the most wide scale destruction and repression would be illogical at best, and morally corrupt at worst. It is the abhorrent result of manipulating the public perception that foreign investment and infrastructure automatically translates to ‘progress.’ So-called development without justice is never development for the people. What we need to do is to address the roots of water insecurity through nationalization of our industries to ensure that our national resources serve the Filipino people, instead of corporations and foreign institutions. We also need to repeal neoliberal policies and projects that treat public services as money-making machineries.
AGHAM maintains that the project is not only a clear violation of laws protecting the integrity of ancestral domains, but it is also an infringement of our Indigenous Peoples’ constitutional right to improved quality of life, social justice, and a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. It is a threat to the vast ecosystem of Sierra Madre, as well as every flora, fauna, and human lives depending on it for sustenance, shelter, and protection from adverse effects of climate change. The 160 million disturbance fee to be provided to the Indigenous Peoples of Quezon and Rizal does not even compare to the immense, long term ecological damage the dam will create. With the current economic crisis, it can not even sustainably shoulder the costs for every individual to be able to live a life of dignity. And for our Dumagats, dispensable cash could never amount to the unparalleled value of their culture and sacred sites. It is simply a band-aid solution to lure the marginalized in an already flawed society that forces people to be desperate for money. As it is not money that gives one dignity, but respect, self-determination, and the removal of the systemic factors that cause poverty in the first place.
The proposed New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project is an outright violation of our Constitution. Sustainable development will never be attained by neglecting social justice and ecological integrity over profit, especially when we are already breaking environmental laws, legal frameworks, and constitutional provisions that should have prohibited the project from commencing in the first place.
AGHAM calls on the state actors and project proponents to respect the lives, agency, and decision of our Indigenous Peoples to lead their lives and maintain their cultural integrity to their own accord. Development at the detriment of the environment and our minorities is not development at all. ###
 Kaliwa Dam has cost Pinoys P46M payment to Chinese lenders – https://malaya.com.ph/news_news/kaliwa-dam-has-cost-pinoys-p46m-payment-to-chinese-lenders/