The Philippines government should order an immediate suspension of all activities related to the Kaliwa Dam Project until an independent expert investigation is completed, Climate Rights International and the Manila Observatory said in an October 16 letter to President Marcos. The organizations also urged President Marcos to commit to implementing the recommendations arising from the investigation.
After conducting field research and consulting local residents and experts, CRI and MO have identified serious concerns related to the Kaliwa Dam Project. These concerns encompass both the environment and the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples within the project area.
Key concerns include:
Human Rights Concerns:
– Livelihoods: The construction of the dam is expected to have severe economic repercussions on the Dumagat-Remontado Indigenous People and local communities who depend on agriculture and tourism.
– Compensation: Alleged irregularities in compensation distribution have raised questions about the application of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA).
– Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Process (FPIC): Accusations of insufficient consultation and flawed FPIC processes have been made by local residents and NGOs.
– The dam’s construction threatens the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Indigenous Peoples, particularly due to the loss of the sacred Tinipak River.
Climate Change and Environment Concerns:
– Deforestation: The construction of the Kaliwa Dam within a forest reserve could lead to increased deforestation and damage to the Sierra Madre’s unique ecosystem.
– Increased Risks: The project may exacerbate typhoon-related risks, flooding, landslides, and erosion in the region.
– Harm to Ecosystems and Biodiversity: The dam project’s environmental impact could negatively affect the Sierra Madre’s diverse fauna and flora.
The Philippines, as a party to a variety of international human rights conventions and the Paris Agreement, has international obligations to ensure that its climate actions respect and protect human rights. The Philippines must respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as emphasized by ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In closing, CRI and MO stress the importance of making the Kaliwa Dam Project a model of environmental and human rights improvement that can inspire future efforts in the fight against climate change.
Photo Credit: Tanay Mountains via Unsplash (CC0).