National minorities called to stop the entry and expansion of destructive energy projects into their ancestral lands as they stormed the gates of the Department of Energy (DOE), DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), and SN Aboitiz Power in a protest caravan today.

AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People joined national minorities under Sandugo Alliance of Moro and Indigenous Peoples in protesting the DOE for allowing big private businesses to pursue unsustainable energy projects that provide no real benefit to the people despite causing the displacement of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands along with destruction of the environment.

The privatization of the Philippine energy industry has made the DOE a mere regulator of an energy sector that is owned and controlled by big private businesses. The country is no stranger to the adverse impacts of privately funded energy projects.

Experiences from struggles against mega dams including the Ambuklao Dam which engulfed 150 hectares of ancestral territory, the Pantabangan dam which submerged towns of the Alta and Bugkalot tribes, and the San Roque Dam which displaced the Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes in the Cordillera, show how mega dams caused dislocation of indigenous peoples as they flood whole communities in their operations.

Mega dams also bring about environmental and ecological destruction along their paths, such as the inundation, or the rapid increase of water levels in an area, which cause supersaturation in the lands surrounding the dam, and further result to sharp decreases in biodiversity and vegetation, and an increase in the likelihood of damaging phenomenon such as earthquakes.

The protesting peoples of the Cordillera region meanwhile stressed lack of difference between mega dam projects and numerous micro- or mini-hydro projects in the region mostly owned by Aboitiz and its subsidiary Hedcor, Inc. As of 2013, there were at least 40 approved hydropower projects in the region, ranging from less than 1 MW of power capacity (micro hydropower) to as much as 600 MW (mega hydropower)*.

Aboitiz has also expanded to coal power with the Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., a 225-MW project expected to be approved by ERC this October.

On the other hand, DMCI has been the prime example of the negative effects of coal mining with the incident in Semirara Mining in 2015 which cost the lives of 9 workers. DMCI’s ventures in construction, coal and nickel mining, water resources, and real estates, enable it to monopolize the resources for the benefit of its own business interests.

Destruction and displacement are bound to happen in projects where control of resources is handed over to profit-seeking private corporations.

Government-initiated but privately-funded projects are not exempt from this. The Laiban Dam (New Centennial Water Source), deemed as a solution to the country’s water insecurity, will flood 9,700 hectares of watershed area in the Sierra Madre mountain range, also causing displacement of thousands of indigenous Dumagat peoples. The project, which recently secured a P10.85-billion allocation from Chinese investments as part of the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, will supply water to Metro Manila under the supervision of private water distribution utilities Maynilad and Manila Water.

We echo Sandugo in their opposition to the destructive energy projects of Aboitiz, DMCI, and other corporations allowed by the DOE to rampage on the lands of the indigenous peoples. We call for the immediate stoppage of these destructive private energy projects. We push for the reorientation of the energy and water industries from privatized to nationalized to enable the government to reliably provide water, energy, and other utilities to the public as a social service.#


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *