The MWSS and the DENR-Environment Management Bureau jointly held the first of a series of public hearings, to evaluate MWSS’ mitigating measures to address possible disturbances in the affected communities of the Kaliwa Dam Project.

The ECC is important for the implementation of the Kaliwa Dam Project, because it represents a positive review of MWSS’ application for ECC.  It also affirms the MWSS’ representations, that the Kaliwa Dam Project will not cause significant negative environmental impact.

The hearing held on 23 August 2019 is considered a success because the concerns of the main stakeholders, namely the indigenous peoples, farmers, pro-environment NGOs, affected residents, have been heard and addressed particularly the project’s impacts on community health, welfare and the environment.  A number of environmental public consultations have been held in the previous years but it was only on 23 August that a joint consultation was conducted with DENR.

Present during the hearing were representatives from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), LGU representatives from General Nakar, Province of Quezon.

The hearing though generally peaceful was marked by a walk-out allegedly by a group of Dumagat tribe group, who questioned the nine (9) day notice prior to the hearing.  The group mostly young boys dressed in Dumagat attire/local costume, was accompanied by different NGOs who are opposing the construction of the Kaliwa Dam Project.

The Notice of Public Hearing was published three (3) consecutive times, the first publication appeared in a newspaper of general circulation as early as 8 August, or 16 days prior to actual public hearing.  Despite MWSS’ proof of publication, the newspaper’s Affidavit of Publication, the group did not return to the venue, at General Nakar Sports Center, Barangay Poblacion, General Nakar, Quezon.

The next public hearing will be on 27 August 2019 at the Ynares Covered Court, Magsaysay Avenue, Teresa, Rizal.  This will be followed by another hearing on 28 August at Chateau Marinero, Real Infante Road, Barangay Comon, Infanta, Quezon Province; and on 2 September 2019 at Tanay, Rizal Province.   MWSS will submit an assessment report on the results of the public hearings and the DENR-EMB will then decide of MWSS’ application.

With regard to MWSS’ compliance with Republic Act No. 8173 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Acts, the MWSS through the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples is about to complete (by September 2019)  the community assemblies as part of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process for six (6) clusters of IP communities in Quezon Province.  Another FPIC process will be held for Rizal Province.

The MWSS is also advocating the LGU’s involvement in watershed protection and conservation, having as its model the partnership with LGU of General Nakar.

Water sourced from Kaliwa dam will be equally shared by MWSS’ two water concessionaires — Manila Water Co., Inc. for the east zone and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. for the west zone, and will not only bridge the demand-supply deficit gap but also reduce dependency on the Angat Dam.