Pro-IPs groups to sue MWSS, DPWH over Kaliwa Dam project

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Location of the proposed Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon Province. (Photo courtesy by CBCP Online)

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups  opposed to the construction of the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province threatened on Friday to sue some officials of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), and the Department Public Works and Highways  (DPWH) for violation of Indigenous Peoples rights law.

Tribal leaders have appealed to the public to help in efforts to stop the construction of the project.

The groups said this would displace indigenous communities in the area and deprive them of their livelihood.

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or R.A. 8371 of 1997 protects the rights of the IPs and their ancestral domains.

Under R.A. 8371, indigenous peoples have “the right to claim over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC) or IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting, and fishing grounds.”

IPs rights defender Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA) claimed that the government itself is violating R.A. 8371, in a desperate move to carry out the construction of the dam project in Quezon province.

SSMNA is planning to file a case against some officials of the MWSS and the DPWH.

“We will file a case, hoping that the judiciary is not afraid of the President. But we will have to test that,” said Fr. Pete Montallana, of the SSMNA.

Montallana showed a video clip of members of the Dumagat tribal minority pleading for help.

“Sana po ay tulungan, kaming mga katutubo upang hadlangan ‘yung itatayong dam. Ito pong pagtatayuan ng dam ay dito po kami kumukuha ng aming ikinabubuhay,” he said.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said   any construction done in areas inhabited by the indigenous peoples must first secure the approval of the communities.

“There’s something wrong in the sense that they must have the permission of the IPs. Anybody who comes to the ancestral domain must ask permission from the communities,” NCIP chair Allen Capuyan said last Tuesday. (Stacy Ang/JGo/CurrentPH.com)

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