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14,000 households to be displaced by China-backed water infra projects, community groups say

More than 14,000 households of mainly indigenous peoples will be displaced should the government push through with several water projects that recently secured funding from China, community groups claimed on Monday.

In a press briefing in Quezon City, Wilma Quirrez, secretary general of Dumagat Sierra Madre, warned that tens of thousands of individuals will be displaced should the Kaliwa Dam Project and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Facility push through.

The government has secured a financing cooperation agreement for both projects from China.

Under the agreement, China will provide soft loans estimated at $234.92 million for Kaliwa Dam covering Phase 1-Kaliwa Dam and Phase 2-Laiban Dam, and $72.49 million for the Chico River irrigation facility.

"Sa mga estimates po 10,000 sa Quezon at 4,000 naman sa Rizal. Ang ugat ng kabuhayan at buhay ng katutubo ay nasa kalisakan mismo, na sisirain nila kung itutuloy nila ang mga dam," Quirrez said.

A project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the P18.72-billion Kaliwa Dam involves the design, financing, and construction of an additional raw water supply source in the area.

It was originally a public private partnership project, with prequalified bidders including SMC-K Water Consortium (San Miguel Holdings Corp. and Korea Water Resources Corp.), and the Abeima-Datem Consortium (Albeinsa Infraestructura Medio Ambiento S.A and Datem Inc.)

However, the government said in March it will be funded by official development assistance (ODA).

The $50-million Chico River Pump Irrigation Project was originally to be funded by the national government and will now be funded also by ODA covering the construction of a diversion dam and intake works on the Chico river. — VDS, GMA News