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Legislators question grant of ECC for Kaliwa Dam construction

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Kaliwa river in Rizal province -- MWSS

BAYAN MUNA legislators said the grant of an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) for the Kaliwa Dam failed to meet the legal requirement to consult indigenous people who could be affected by the construction of Metro Manila’s new water source.

Party-list Representative Eufemia C. Cullamat said in a statement that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the agency that issues the ECC, has not shown evidence of consultation for the P18.7 billion dam, to be built in Rizal and Quezon provinces

“Did the DENR conduct consultation with the Dumagats and other local communities to be affected by the Kaliwa Dam project? If they did, where are the results?” she said.

Another Bayan Muna legislator, Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, said in a separate statement: ”We filed House Resolution No. 10 and are calling on the House leadership to immediately schedule a hearing to investigate Manila Water (Co., Inc.) and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.). We hope that this round of water interruptions is not another ploy to push for the start of the construction of the Kaliwa dam that is full of anomalies and is onerously pro-China.”

Manila Water and Maynilad, the capital’s two water service concession holders, announced water interruptions this week, citing falling levels at Angat Dam, the current main source of supply for Metro Manila.

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The Bayan Muna chairman, former Rep. Neri J. Colmenares, called the ECC issuance “highly irregular” with many steps in the process passed over.

“How can the Chinese contractor and MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) issue an affidavit of no complaint, a requirement for the issuance of ECC, when there are many complaints lodged against it? The LGU cannot possibly certify that the project is compatible with its land use plan because it covers ancestral domain and impacts on the health, safety and environment of the indigenous peoples and their lands,” he said in a statement.

“The DENR should not have issued the ECC unless these issues are settled. Now DENR will also become accountable if injuries and destruction results from the construction of the dam. We demand that DENR recall the ECC pending compliance with the requirements,” Mr. Colmenares said.

Bayan Muna opposes the Kaliwa Dam, which the government is seeking to build with Chinese aid, and backs the rehabilitation of Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal to address the water shortage in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.

He said Wawa Dam can provide 1.5 billion liters of water daily while Kaliwa Dam can only produce 600 million liters.

The government has said it hopes to meet one last legal requirement, clearance from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, before the end of the year.

The Kaliwa Dam project will be built by China Energy Engineering Corp.

The construction of the water project was first approved by National Economic Development Authority in 2014.

The financing scheme for the project was changed in 2017 from a public-private partnership to official development assistance.

Last year, the MWSS released an initial P565 million to the Department of Public Works and Highways for road construction to the dam work site, taken from the P2 billion government share of the project’s funding. — PhilStar

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