The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged authorities to halt the implementation of the Kaliwa Dam project, which it said will endanger indigenous communities and the ecosystem in the Sierra Madre mountain range.
CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said the Kaliwa Dam project will affect the Dumagat-Remontados indigenous groups.
“They have a right to this forest as it is their ancestral domain as recognized by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act,” he said in a statement. “Sadly, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples failed to protect and uphold [their] Human and Indigenous Rights.”
Valles added that the project will submerge around 300 hectares of forest ecosystem and endanger 126 endemic and endangered species of plants and wildlife.
“They should not be sacrificed on the altar of development aggression, which would just benefit big businesses and Chinese investors,” he said.
The China-funded Kaliwa Dam, which will be constructed along the provinces of Quezon and Rizal, is expected to help meet Metro Manila’s increasing demand for water supply.
However, the project has received criticisms from both indigenous tribes that will be displaced by the construction, as well as lawmakers who have noted “onerous” provisions under the Kaliwa Dam deal.
The CBCP likewise slammed the contract for the project, which it said is "not transparent at all."
“For the sake of the common good, we strongly recommend that ecologically sustainable alternatives be carefully considered… without destroying the precious culture and sustainable future of our Dumagat-Remontados tribes,” Valles said.—AOL, GMA News