Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc.

SSMNA's Position Paper on the Construction of Mega-Dams in Sierra Madre


We, the members of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNA), who envision a community of stewards and co-Creators of a loving Creator to all of creation, in particular to Sierra Madre and commit ourselves to the present and future generations that we will: (1) Co- exist harmoniously with all creatures, living things and elements of nature; (2) Care and protect our natural environment particularly within Sierra Madre; (3) Awaken the consciousness among local communities and all Sierra Madre stakeholders of our being stewards and co-Creators of a loving Creator; and (4) Strengthen the commitment of local communities and all Sierra Madre stakeholders in maintaining the balance of nature, strongly oppose all destructive development projects, especially the construction of new mega-dams, within the Sierra Madre.

            We particularly express our strong opposition to the New Centennial Water Source Project under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program of the present Administration of President Aquino which includes the construction of Kaliwa Dam to be constructed in Kaliwa River, Barangay Pagsangahan, General Nakar, Quezon which has already been approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on May 29, 2014 and Laiban Dam which is proposed to be constructed in Kaliwa River, Barangay Laiban, Tanay, Rizal.

Project Information:

60 meters high concrete-faced rockfill dam (cfrd) with a capacity of 600 MLD

Dam is located in the Kaliwa River, Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar, Quezon.
Watershed area = 9,700 hectares
Reservoir area = 113 hectares
27.70 km. tunnel & aqueducts
Modular Water Treatment Plant (WTP)   located in Antipolo and Teresa, Rizal
Project Affected Families: 1,465
Project Cost: PhP 18.72 Billion
Funding Source: PPP
Construction Schedule: 2015 - 2020

Project Information:
113 meters high concrete-faced rockfill dam with a capacity of 1,800 ML
Dam is located in the Kaliwa River, Brgy. Laiban, Tanay, Rizal
Hydropower generation = 49.50 MW
Watershed area = 28,000 hectares
Reservoir area = 2,239 hectares
WTP located in Antipolo and Teresa, Rizal.
Project Affected Families: 3,708
Resettlement Site: San Ysiro, Antipolo City
Project Cost: PhP  25.60 Billion
Funding Source: PPP
Const. Sched:: commissioning by 2027

(source: MWSS powerpoint presentation in the Upper-Marikina Summit at UP Diliman on May 29,2014)

Following are the reasons and justifications of our opposition: 

Privatization: Public-Private Partnership

According to Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), a member organization of SSMNA, “There is a natural conflict under a set-up where our water system is managed by private corporations. Private corporations always operate for profit. And profit can only be maximized through three ways: (1) Increase in consumers <but MWSS has limited area>, (2) Increase in rates <sometimes difficult to pursue because of political or social backlash>, and (3) Increase in consumption. It is always in the interest of private corporations to have greater supply and induce greater demand or consumption.”

·         Economic Issue

Large dams are not economic. Researchers from Oxford University gave this verdict based on over four years of comprehensive economic analysis on 245 large dams constructed between 1934 and 2007 in 65 countries with a total cost of US$353 billion (in 2010 prices).

Their findings are quite overwhelming. First, “Large dams suffered average cost overruns of 96%. The degree of cost overruns tended to increase with the size of projects. Even without considering social and environmental costs, large dams on average don’t make economic sense.” Second, “Project implementation suffered an average delay of 44%. The implementation schedule does not include the lengthy lead time required to prepare projects.”

The project will not bring about economic development but will only end in drowning the country with more debts.

·         Environmental and Health Impacts, Food Security

The project is a threat to the still biodiverse-rich forest-ecosystem within the Kaliwa Watershed which, according to Haribon Foundation (another member organization of SSMNA), includes 103 hectares of mossy forest and 2,479 hectares of primary forest, home to 126 animal species, 53% of which or a total of 67 species are endemic to the Philippines such as the Philippine Brown Deer (Cervus Marianus) and 12 species can only be found in Luzon such as the Luzon Bearded Wild Pigs (Sus Philippensis). 

The project will impair the natural river system of Kaliwa River and affect its capacity to provide basic ecological services. Alteration and reduction of river flow is also expected which will increase risk of malaria and other water and insect-borne diseases.

It will destroy the ecosystems of the towns of Metro Reina (General Nakar, Real and Infanta), Quezon, like its more or less 3,000 hectares mangrove fish sanctuary and farm irrigation; same will happen to the ecosystem of Tanay, Rizal and other nearby towns. Thus, the project is a threat to food security.

With the loss of a total of 37,700 hectares of the country’s remaining forest cover - 9,700 hectares under a 60m high Kaliwa Dam and 28,000 hectares under a 113-meter high Laiban Dam, the project will endanger Metro Manila of flooding, air pollution as well as intensify global warming and climate change.

·         Legal Issues (National and International)

The project primarily violates Sec.16 Article II of the 1987 constitution of the Republic of the Philippines which declares the basic human right to a balanced ecology and healthy environment.

The project also violates PD 1151 which declares that it is a “continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being.”

The project further violates PD 1586 which declares that it is “the policy of the State to attain and maintain a rational and orderly balance between socio-economic growth and environmental protection.”

The project also disregards the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS Act as it will encroach a Protected Area.

Constructing Kaliwa Dam and Laiban Dam will also disregard Proclamation No. 1636, entitled "Declaring as a National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Game Preserve a Certain Parcel of Land of the Public Domain Embraced and Situated in the Provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Quezon, Island of Luzon", covering some 46,310 hectares and Presidential Proclamation No. 573 which declared Kaliwa Watershed as Forest Reserve.

The project location of the NCWSP is within the ancestral land of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Quezon and Rizal to which their life, their culture, and their traditions are deeply rooted. With the construction of the dams, the affected communities, mostly IPs, will be moved to a resettlement area which is not apposite to their way of life. Thus, the project is going against Principle 9 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly of February 1998 declaring that “States have a special obligation to protect against the displacement of indigenous peoples, minorities, and groups with special ties to the land.”
The project contravenes the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or IPRA which requires any project within the ancestral domain a Free Prior Informed Consent of the IPs. The IPs of Quezon and Rizal are strongly against the construction of dams.

he project has no Environmental Compliance Certificate yet, but the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the President of the State have already approved Kaliwa Dam. Thus, it also contravenes the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System.

The project is going against the framework for sustainable development which is intergenerational justice and equity as there are many fault lines across the location of the dams. According to the World Commission on Dams, 60% of the world’s 227 largest rivers are significantly fragmented by dams, diversions and canals, which have led to the degradation of ecosystems. The Commission, therefore, opposes the construction of large dams saying that large dams cause particularly adverse consequences to ecosystems and biodiversity, with serious implications for the health and well-being of future generations. Furthermore, the Commission reiterates intergenerational equity as a budding human right threatened by dams and points out that integrating environmental concerns and relevant human rights doctrine, the concept of intergenerational equity denotes the right of future generations to inherit a planet capable of sustaining life.

The World Commission on Environment and Development also declares that the protection of the environmental interests of future generations is a general principle of international law. This declaration is being disregarded by the Philippine government in continuously pushing the implementation of this project.

Lastly, the project is also going against articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which state the following: (1) “The adequacy of water should not be interpreted narrowly, by mere reference to volumetric quantities and technologies. Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good. The manner of the realization of the right to water must also be sustainable, ensuring that the right can be realized for present and future generations;” and (2)States parties should adopt comprehensive and integrated strategies and programmes to ensure that there is sufficient and safe water for present and future generations. “

Together with our opposition to the Kaliwa Dam and Laiban Dam, we also deplore the revival of Kanan Dam, the proposed Sumag Diversion Project and Agos Dam, all of which will be constructed in General Nakar, Quezon, as well as the Multi-River Hydropower cum Bulk Water Project of Sierra Madre Water Corporation which will impact the municipalities of Paete, Pakil and Pangil in the Province of Laguna and the municipality of Real in Quezon Province. All said projects are meant to deliver additional water supply to the residents of Metro Manila in response to the water crisis continuously projected by the present and previous Administrations. Considering these many dams that would be constructed to provide additional water supply to Metro Manila alone, aside from the justifications which have already been mentioned, our simplest argument is this: How true is this water crisis phenomenon in Metro Manila? 

          It has been presented in the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) – Infrastructure Philippines 2010 Summit that Angat Dam provides 4,000 million liters per day (MLD) to about 13 million population of Metro Manila, out of what the agency believed to be that year’s demand of 4,395 MLD. In this Summit, MWSS also projected that by 2015, the demand would be 5,054 MLD.
           If that is so, where is the water supply going? According to the United Nations (UN), a person needs only about 50L of water per day in order to live. Taking this as our basis, even if we assume that the present population of Metro Manila is already 15 million, the present water supply volume of 4,000 MLD is more than enough. Only 750MLD is necessary to provide the 50L per day per capita need.
           MWSS says that the per capita need for water has increased to 110L per day. Even if we believe that to be so, the present supply is still much more. Where, then, do the rest of the 4,000MLD supply go? To the many already-existing mega-business establishments/infrastructures all over Metro Manila – primarily malls! And to the many water purifying stations, car wash outlets and laundry stations, not to mention golf courses and private and public swimming pools! And where is the additional water supply meant to be delivered? To the many more mega-business entities coming to rise in the metropolis?!
           At present, how many residents of Metro Manila are actually getting below what they need and how many are consuming wastefully more than what is just needed? Maybe those of the latter need to awaken in them the “sapat spirituality” and simple living. (“Mabuhay sa sapat para ang lahat ay magkaroon ng sapat!” or “Live simply so that all may simply live!)
          Presuming that there is indeed a water crisis, maybe because of global warming or climate change, is constructing new mega-dams the solution? We don’t believe so. And we are certain that if our environment could speak our words…that would also be her answer…a BIG NO! We don’t need new mega-dams to provide us with our water needs! We need more trees! We need more forests!
         If there is indeed a water crisis, it is because Angat Dam is no longer capable of providing its then capacity of 4,000 MLD. It is not actually Angat dam that could no longer meet the water demand of Metro Manila but Angat watershed itself. Our watersheds and our forests provide us the water we need, not the dams! And the inconvenient truth is that we have lost majority of our forests! Our watersheds are so much devastated!
        No matter how many dams we construct, if our watersheds and forests are not restored, our need for water would never be met again. A great water crisis would really be unless we genuinely restore our watersheds and forests.
     Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA), in its advocacy against mega-dams, recommends, first and foremost, a genuine comprehensive, participative and corrupt-free program for the restoration of our watersheds and forests. The Alliance sees the National Greening Program of the present Administration as a false solution, not to mention, as just another venue for the rampant corruption within the DENR. Together with this, SSMNA also pushes the passing into law of the Forest Resources Bill which prioritizes the protection of our remaining forests. Budget for forest protection must also be increased. Any reforestation program would be irrelevant if forest protection, which should include genuine logging moratorium as well as mining moratorium, is not seriously prioritized.
           SSMNA also strongly recommends uncorrupted repairs and improvements of the already existing dams, including the entire water pipe system. Of the 4,000 MLD capacity of Angat Dam, around 1600 MLD has been recorded as Maynilad and Manila Water’s combined “non-revenue” water or NRW (water leakages). When Maynilad and Manila Water took over our water system, they promised to lower the NRW to 32% by 2007. Has this promise been fulfilled? If the present non-revenue water would be reduced, we would have more water supply.
          SSMNA also sees the need for a water conservation policy which would check the lifestyle of all consumers, exhorting them to responsible consumption and conservation of water. Water recycling and rainwater harvesting could also be considered in the formulation and promulgation of such a policy.
          With all that have been pointed out, we the members of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc., strongly make our demand for the non-issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the revocation of the approval of Kaliwa Dam by NEDA and by the President.
       We also wish to address this particular message to our President: May we remind you of what you constantly tell us. That is, that we, the Filipino people, are your boss. We strongly recommend to you as your boss: Stop the construction of new mega-dams that would endanger the lives of many people and many other forms of life! Listen to the cry of the environment, listen to the cry of our dear Mother Earth...give Her the justice that is due Her! Give her the right to live! It is through Her that we live, and move, and have our being because it is through Her, particularly through Her forests which provide us of our basic needs of air and water, that our Loving Creator gives us freely the gift of life!          
          With the Krus ng Sierra Madre, we stand and speak for our forests and for the well-being of both the present and future generations of Filipino people! And we demand the State – the President/Office of the President, as well as the Supreme Court, the Senate President, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Senate Committee on Climate Change, Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Ecology, House Committee on Natural Resources, House Committee on National Cultural Communities, House Committee on Agriculture and Food, House Committee on Health, House Committee on Social Services, House Committee on Human Rights, House Committee on Justice, the House Special Committee on Food Security, House Special Committee on Land Use, and House Special Committee on Reforestation, the Department on Environment and Natural Resources – the Office of the Secretary, including DENR-Calabarzon, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), and the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Climate Change Commission (CCC), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and the Provincial Government Units of Quezon, Rizal and Laguna and the Local Government Units of the municipalities of Real, Infanta and General Nakar in Quezon, of the municipalities of Paete, Pakil and Pangil Laguna and of the municipality of Tanay and the city of Antipolo in Rizal, to address the arguments of this position paper within fifteen (15) working days upon its receipt as the law provides.
       We also call upon the Filipino people, especially the stakeholders of the Sierra Madre watersheds and forests and more especially the residents of Quezon, Rizal, Laguna and Metro Manila to unite with us in opposing the above mentioned projects. We seek the help of our media people in raising the awareness of the Filipino people of this grave issue that will impact not only human lives but also many other forms of life.
           We end this position paper with some excerpts from Pope Francis’ homily during his Inaugural Mass on March 19, 2013:
         “The vocation of being a ‘protector,’ however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live...everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!
             Please, I would like to ask all those who have position of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!”


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