The two sides in the debate whether the DENR should approve MWSS application for Environmental Certificate Compliance to build the Kaliwa Dam Project was again put to rigorous process last 2 September 2019.
The public hearing was held at Barangay Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal, home to Dumagat-Remontado, and Agta ethnic groups who oppose the construction of the dam in portion of Daraitan. Most of the civic organization rights groups, peace and faith-based institutions against the project who were present during the public scoping and public hearings held for the Provinces of Quezon and Rizal were again present to register their objection. Pro-environment and NO to Dam civic groups such as the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNA), Indigenous People’s Apostolate of the Diocese of Infanta, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippine Movement for Climate Change, San Lakas, Pambansang Magsasaka Coalition, Haribon Foundation, Indigenous Womens Rights Movement submitted their respective position papers to DENR-EMB.
Former mayor and now the incumbent Vice-Mayor RM Tanjuatco together with the municipal council members voiced the concern of most of the local residents who feared that the project would cause Tinipak River to overflow and inundate their village. MWSS explained the social engineering measures such as hydraulic structures and channels during extreme flood events, flood monitoring instrumentation and warning systems that are components of the project. On the concern that the dam is near a fault line, the MWSS assured that the dam will be designed in accordance with international standards using advanced seismic hazard design tools. MWSS also explained the socio-economic benefits for Rizal such as drainage, sewerage and sanitation systems, watershed protection, livelihood and job creation, supply of potable water to surrounding populations, dam aesthetics to attract tourism.
Multiple questions though sufficiently addressed framed the debate on the dam design which the ethnic communities argue will affect cultural sites and burial grounds. A more in-depth dialogue will be conducted on 5 September 2019 as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) conducts the Free Prior and Informed Consent process for the Province of Rizal. NCIP jointly with MWSS is on its last leg of the decision planning process under the FPIC consultations for the Province Quezon which comprise 6 clusters of barangays and sitios thereat.
The Kaliwa Dam Project is among the coordinated efforts of the national government to ensure water security in region. MWSS assures the project stakeholders that it will provide regulatory decision makers sufficiently detailed information as it encourages public participation in the disclosure of the needed information.