26 February 2010
Indigenous peoples and environmentalists to San Miguel Corporation:
Forgo the Laiban dam project
Environmental activists and indigenous people under the Network Opposed to
Laiban Dam (NO to Laiban Dam) held a protest action in front of the main
office of Danding Cojuangco-owned San Miguel Corporation (SMC) denouncing
the efforts of the company to push through with the controversial Laiban
Dam project in Rizal province.
"If integrity and social responsibility, San Miguel Corporation's
supposedly company values, mean anything to SMC, then they should withdraw
their proposal to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS)
for the joint development of the Laiban Dam project, " said Meggie Nolasco
of Kalikasan PNE and convenor of NO to Laiban Dam alliance.
Ms. Nolasco expressed that, "The Laiban Dam project, aside from being very
expensive and environmentally dangerous, does not and will not have a
social license to operate. The indigenous people Dumagat and Remontados,
local government officials and environmentalists will relentlessly oppose
the project because we believe it will do more harm than good to our
communities and the environment."
The government already expended around Php755 million pesos for
feasibility studies and the pre-construction phase of the said dam since
1970's. However, the US$ 1 billion project has been postponed several
times already by different administrations because of issues on social
impacts, corruption, lack of funding, technicalities and strong local
While indigenous people, environmental and other groups have long
expressed their opposition to the project, local government units and
officials in the municipalities of Real, Nakar and Infanta in Quezon and
Tanay in Rizal provinces have also signified their disapproval through
"We are confident that the Laiban dam project will again be deferred such
as what happened in the past and will not push through under the Arroyo
administration, an added indication for SMC to abandon the project
completely," said Ms. Nolasco.
Kalikasan PNE, along with several affected residents, NO to Laiban Dam,
Katribu Partylist, Water for the People Network (WPN) and other groups
held a dialogue with MWSS and DENR officials last February 19 and 25 to
register the arguments and position against the dam's construction and
gather firsthand the status of the project.
According to Ms. Nolasco, "Based on our dialogue with MWSS Administrator
Diosdado Jose Allado, there will be able no contract signing with SMC
during the first quarter of this year, contrary to what was reported in
the news. In addition to the lack of funds, MWSS is still in the process
of completing the requirements and studying the proposal submitted by
One important requirement that is still lacking is the Environmental
Compliance Certificate (ECC) as disclosed by DENR Assistant Director for
Public Affairs Office Hiro Masuda in another dialogue. Joan Jaime
spokesperson of NO to Laiban Dam stated that there is still no ECC issued
to MWSS regarding the Laiban Dam project since the DENR denied processing
it in 2008.
Jaime insisted that, "There are alternatives to Laiban Dam to solve the
growing water demand in Metro Manila. By just improving existing water
infrastructures and services we can already provide more than 1,000
million liters per day (MLD) which is more than the projected water needs
in the next five years. Several studies also cite that the Laguna Lake and
Wawa Watershed Area can provide more than enough of our water supply in
the coming decades."
"Water has become more costly and inaccessible since the government's
response to the water crisis is to let profit-driven companies like San
Miguel Corporation take control over our water resources. Privatization
resulted to exorbitant water rates, poor services, massive retrenchment of
water district workers and displacement of marginalized sectors in their
communities," Jaime said.
"We demand that SMC pull out from the Laiban dam project and that MWSS
fulfill its mandate of providing clean and economical water to Metro
Manila residents, but not at the cost of the environment and the right of
the residents and indigenous people to their ancestral lands."
* By kalikasan at 2010-03-04 08:17
4 March 2010
Environmentalists welcome SMC Laiban Dam project cancellation,
challenge presidential bets to totally abandon the project
Multisectoral alliance Network Opposed to Laiban Dam (NO to Laiban Dam)
and environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
welcomed the decision of Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System (MWSS) to
terminate its joint venture with Danding Cojuangco-owned San Miguel
Corporation over the Laiban Dam Project.
"This is a tactical victory for the indigenous peoples, local communities
and the groups who campaigned against the project. The termination will
offer a temporary respite from the threats and damages that the
controversial large dam pose," said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan PNE and
convenor of NO to Laiban Dam.
The group maintained that it is but correct for the MWSS not to pursue the
project as it is environmentally dangerous and socially unaccepted by the
indigenous people and local governments in Rizal and Quezon provinces.
Like in the past administrations, the Arroyo government and MWSS failed to
get consent from communities and funding for the said project. The
government has already expended around Php755 million pesos on the Laiban
Dam project since 1970's but it has been postponed by different
administrations because of issues on social impacts, corruption, lack of
funding, technicalities and strong local opposition.
Highly contested issues include the displacement of about 10,000
residents, including Dumagat communities and the disturbance on 27,800
hectares of ancestral and agricultural lands.
"We call on MWSS officials to focus more on improving the water system and
facilitate the construction of more environmental friendly water solutions
rather than pursue the Laiban project. More importantly, to resolve the
water and energy crises that continually plague the nation, the government
should reverse its water privatization policy which put our water
resources and facilities to the hands of foreign and private corporations
that result to poor services, massive wastage and higher water rates,"
said in the statement of NO to Laiban Dam.
NO to Laiban Dam, Katribu Partylist and indigenous people from Rizal
conducted a month-long protest camp out in front of the DENR and held
actions at MWSS from January to February this year to oppose the Laiban
Dam project of SMC.
"We remain vigilant. We will continue our opposition as the MWSS continues
to seek out partners and funding for the controversial Laiban Dam project.
We also challenge all the presidentiables and vice presidentiables in May
2010 election to stand with us in opposing the project. If they are truly
for the interest of indigenous people and protection of the environment,
opposing Laiban Dam project should be one of their environmental agenda,"
said Mr. Bautista.
* By kalikasan at 2010-03-04 08:28
16 February 2010
Green groups challenge presidential bets to take a stand on critical
environmental and social issues
Environmental groups under Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
(Kalikasan PNE) noted the presidential candidates who expressed opposition
against the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Plant (BNPP) in a forum held on
Monday but challenged the presidential bets to express their stand on
other environmental and social issues as well.
"Opposing the revival of the BNPP is a popular position to take,
especially since the news of the revival of the BNPP has caused a stir
among the general public who for some time already believed that given its
environmental and economic issues, the BNPP have long been laid to rest.
It would be good to also hear their position on such popular calls as to
junk the Mining Act of 1995, stop the construction of new coal-fired power
plants, cancel commercial logging permits, and the closure of the Laiban
dam," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan PNE.
"These issues and calls have been the demand of communities and the basic
sectors on the issue of the environment. If they truly represent the
interests of the people then they would correctly align with them and
oppose any national policy or project that is detrimental to our people
and the environment's welfare." expressed Mr. Bautista.
The junking of the Mining Act of 1995 for one is persistent call of
environmentalists and mining affected communities as it legalizes the
liberalization of our mining industry and permits 100% foreign
corporations to utilize and profit from our mineral resources. Commercial
and large-scale mining has brought nothing but poverty, environmental
degradation, economic and physical displacements and countless human
rights violations to our communities.
"Yet the people should also remind themselves that such positions will
stand to be realized only if the presidentiable’s background and
track-record also shows clear environmental and pro-people position," said
Sen. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III , Sen. Richard Gordon, Sen. Jamby
Madrigal , Bro. Eddie Villanueva , JC delos Reyes, Nicanor Perlas and
Gilberto Teodoro Jr. were the presidential aspirants who stated opposition
against the said nuclear power plant.
"A candidate must not just actively promote pro-people and pro-environment
policies but also a kind of governance different from our current one. The
national policies pushed by President Arroyo have brought massive
environmental degradation and poverty to our people. To speak favorably on
certain issues is one thing but to represent the corrupt administration is
a grave contradiction to the interests of the people," expressed Mr.
The group criticized Gilberto Teodoro Jr. of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, who is
standard-bearer of the Arroyo administration’s party and also the cousin
of Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuanco, the main proponent of the BNPP revival.
"Mr. Teodoro is sure to push for and implement the same policies of the
current administration and favor the interests of his clan over the people
despite what he claims," said Bautista.
Bautista furthered, "We have seen how power hungry Mrs. Arroyo is and she
would utilize all means for her to remain in power. A presidential
candidate or any politician who is a known ally and associate will be a
sure adversary of the people and environment."
The group insists that for candidates to be considered pro-environment,
they must have a clear stand on other social issues such as corruption and
extra-judicial killings and must genuinely condemn the current anti-people
and anti-environment regime.
* By kalikasan at 2010-03-04 08:14