The AWTIP is a classic example why commitment, collaboration, partnership and respect is important in securing the approval of the indigenous peoples (IPs) in any developmental project within their ancestral domain. The AWTIP or Tunnel 4 is within the 0.685 hectares ancestral domain of the IPs of Sitio Ipo, Bgy. San Mateo, Norzagaray Bulacan. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) classified the project as non-extractive, non-intrusive and small-scale.
The Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (IPs/ICCs), specifically the Dumagat Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of Kabayunan Ancestral Domain in Dona Remedios Trinidad and Norzagaray, Bulacan, expressed their support to the project after the required FPIC processes on consultation, community assemblies, consensus building and decision making were completed by MWSS.
Community participation was critical in identifying local needs and in MWSS providing a culturally appropriate response. Achieving unanimous agreement was not always easy but the strong relationship the MWSS has maintained with the IPs/ICCs paved the way for the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on 17 December 2019. The MOA includes the indigenous defined FPIC processes, self-determined development plans, and a P20 million Community Development Fund.
The long-awaited CP, a certificate issued by the NCIP attesting to the grant of FPIC by the Dumagat Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of Kabayunan Ancestral Domain was signed on 25 September 2020. Immediately thereafter, the MWSS Concessionaires, Manila Water Company and Maynilad Services, Inc. funded the check for P20.0 Million promised to the community. For transparency, a ceremonial turnover and acceptance of the P20.0 million community development assistance was held on 20 May 2021.
Mr. Rodolfo Aquino, President of the Indigenous Bulos-Kabol-Lowen Association of Bulacan, accepted the check (IBKCAB). In his message, Tribal Governor Rolando M. Rivera stated that the fund will improve the community’s quality of life and will be used to promote the IP’s interests, beliefs, and customs.