Tag Archives: Laiban Dam

Militants slam new DENR chief for evading talks on Laiban dam

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Militant groups opposed to the ambitious
P 52-billion Laiban dam project in Tanay, Rizal slammed newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Eleazar Quinto for evading a dialogue with their leaders last Thursday.

Leaders of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kasama-TK), Anakpawis party list and Katribu party list were scheduled to meet Sec. Quinto for the dialogue but the new secretary was not present prompting activists to temporarily blocked the entrance and exit gates of the environment office last week.

Pamalakaya vice-chair Salvador France said the letter urging Sec. Quinto to face the opposition groups to Laiban dam project was delivered on Jan.12, about 10 days before the scheduled meeting. The letter was received by the DENR receiving section on the same day.

“Secretary Quinto is evading the issue which is a matter of life and death to affected fisherfolk, farmers and indigenous communities. For the information of Mr. Quinto, Laiban dam project will directly displace 20,000 upland villagers,” France stressed.

The Pamalakaya leader added: “It seems to us that the P 52-B Laiban dam project between MWSS and San Miguel Corporation is a done deal and Sec. Quinto is compelled by the appointing authority to follow the anti-people multi-billion project. That’s the reason for the snub.”

France said the P 52 billion dam project was part of the exchange deal between Mrs. Arroyo and SMC chair Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the group added.

Last week, officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) announced that the deal will with SMC will be sealed not later than March. MWSS administrator Diosdado Jose Allado said the government targets to award the project to largest food and beverage conglomerate upon the submission of necessary requirements.

Pamalakaya said to sow disunity and terror among indigenous people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines had stepped up its recruitment for Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) among the Dumagat and Remontado allocating 20 percent of its personnel for the indigenous peoples. The latter have long denounced this military scheme, saying CAFGU recruitment sows disunity among them.

Most villagers however continue to refuse joining the CAFGU believing that they are just being used by the military as a cannon fodder or shields for their counter-insurgency operations.

Military atrocities in the Southern Tagalog region peaked in 2000-2001 when 11 military battalions were deployed in the area, causing the displacement of about 220 indigenous families living in four provinces, including Rizal and Quezon.

The dam, when finished, will provide an average 1.89 billion liters of water a day for some 5.5 million residents of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces by 2015. The project will also include a hydropower plant to supply 25 megawatts of electricity. #

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DAR promised to look into farmer’s landlessness

By Axel Pinpin, contributor

Mnaila, Philippines-In a dialogue yesterday with the farmers, Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform promised to look into the wide scale conversion of farm lands in Southern Tagalog.

The militant KASAMA-TK criticized what they called ‘one of the nailed promises of DAR.’ Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said that they have been hearing promises from the agency decades ago. “Sec. Pangandaman is the ultimate liar; he cannot assure that DAR will study the agrarian disputes our group presented because recently he declared that he already approved the application of 43,000 hectares of farm lands for conversion.”

Lacandazo’s group is pressing DAR to cancel all conversion order especially after typhoon Ondoy hit most of the agricultural area in the region.

KASAMA-TK together with the leaders of their provincial chapters presented several agrarian cases in a day-long dialogue with the DAR secretary. Among them is the controversial Hacienda Looc estate in Nasugbu, Batangas being developed by Henry Sy. It involves 8,650 hectares of productive rice field, the farmer’s group said.

Outside the DAR office, more than 300 farmers staged a die-in to dramatize their call for a genuine agrarian reform in the country.

“The 70% of the country’s population needed a radical and pro-farmer land reform not a bogus reform for the landlords and foreign investors,” Lacandazo said, referring to RA 9700, the enacted law after the lower house and senate approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill.

Earlier, other groups held a dialogue with Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

PAMALAKAYA from Southern Tagalog is demanding DENR to stop the construction of the R1 Coastal Road Extension in Bacoor, Cavite and the mothballed Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal, expressing their concern on the aftermath of the two typhoons that hit the country.

The group walked-out of the dialogue after Tamoria declared that the DENR cannot do anything about the project.

The farmers built a camp-out in front of the DAR building and will join the other farmers from Central Luzon today. They will be marching to Mendiola for the culmination of their week-long protest. October 16-21 is declared as Peasant Week in the country.#

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Dumagats launched Tanay-Manila caravan vs. Laiban dam

by Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- Leaders of indigenous Dumagat communities in Tanay, Rizal went on Tanay-Manila protest caravan against the revival of the mothballed Laiban Dam Project.

In a press statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, leaders of Dumagat indigenous groups asserted that the $ 1 billion dam project would submerge 7 barangays in Tanay and 2 in Gen. Nakar, Quezon province.

The protest caravan, which came a week after lawmakers from the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking a halt on all flagship dam projects in the country in the aftermath of the San Roque Dam flooding of provinces in Northern Luzon. The caravan was also joined by farmers, fisherfolks and other sectors from Southern Tagalog, and it is part of the weeklong activities to commemorate peasant week.

Among the Dumagat leaders, Lupe de la Cruz,70 of Sitio Nayon, Brgy. Sta. Ines, Tanay said that they are firm in their stand against the construction of the dam citing its severe effects to their livelihood, safety, and ancestral domain.

“Mawawalan kami ng tirahan at ang ang aming mga pananim ay lalamunin ng tubig. Papaalisin kami sa aming lugar na hindi naman namin alam kung ang paglilipatan sa amin ay may pananim o wala; o kung malaya ba kaming nakakapaglakad katulad sa aming lupang ninuno na walang humahadlang sa amin”, he said

The Laiban Dam project which started in the 1970s recently saw its revival following moves of San Miguel Bulk Water Co., Inc, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation owned by landlord Danding Cojuangco to submit an unsolicited joint venture proposal to MWSS to develop the dam.

Government data showed that some 4,413 families will be directly displaced including Dumagat and Remontado communities, while downstream communities are also at risk of disastrous flooding should the project pushes through.

De la Cruz also chided military atrocities in their area, ranging from intimidation to direct threats among residents vocal against the project. Increased military presence were also observed in the area.

“Mahirap lumabas sa mga kabayanan dahil iniimbestigahan kami ng mga militar, tinatanong kung kasapi ng NPA”, he furthered.

On October 17-18, Dumagat leaders joined the solidarity mission “Lakbay Pakikiisa”, initiated by multi-sectoral groups in the region led by BAYAN-ST, Serve the People Corps, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan and the indigenous Katribu partylists to provide relief and rehabilitation to communities in Tanay, Rizal that have yet to receive help from the government despite the damage Typhoon Ondoy has wrought.

The group traversed the bumpy roads for 4 hours leading to Brgy. Sta. Ines, where at least 1,300 families waited and availed of the relief goods. Medical and psycho-social services were also extended to the residents.

The coordinated protests also marked the 18th anniversary of Calabarzon Project, an extensive development project in Region IV-A which has brought destruction to peasants, fisherfolks, and urban poor communities over the region in favor of foreign and local business interests.

“The 18 years of Project CALABARZON has only brought tragedy and has only worsened the lives of the people in the region with its pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist leaning. The government made it appear as a developmental project when in reality, only few business interests who would benefit from it”, said Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of the militant KASAMA-TK.

She furthered that massive land conversion and infrastructure building have already displaced farmers, fisher folks and urban poor communities, and have caused serious blow to the environment.

Similar protest actions were also held in Batangas Pier and Trece Martires City in Cavite while members of the Save Laguna Lake Movement also staged a protest caravan going to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City.

The caravan from Rizal will also stage protest actions in Benpres holdings where displaced farmers from Brgy. Macabud in Rodriguez, Rizal will air their grievance against the Lopez owned Bantay Kalikasan. The caravan will then head to the Department of National Defense and the MWSS offices before joining the Laguna delegation in a protest march from the Department of Agrarian Reform to the DENR office. #

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Leftists fear: Danding might use P 130-billion coco levy fund to finance Laiban dam project

Leftists fear: Danding might use P 130-billion coco levy fund to finance Laiban dam project

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said it is not discounting the possibility that business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco chair of San Miguel Corporation will use portions of the estimated P 130-billion coconut levy fund to finance the ambitious Laiban Dam project in Southern Tagalog region.

“The sum of all our fears is that Danding by hook or by crook will use portions of the P 130-billion coconut levy fund as capital for the grand revival and commencement of the anti-people and anti-environment Laiban dam project,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said the controversial P 130-billion coconut levy fund which is currently locked in various legal cases before the Supreme Court and the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court remains in the disposal of SMC where Cojuangco maintains the biggest controlling stake.

Hicap asserted that the coconut levy funds which exacted from small coconut farmers during the Martial Law regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos were used to buy 446.45 million of SMC class A shares and 307.4 million class B shares of the largest food and beverage company in the country.

“The Supreme Court ruling declaring the P 130-billion as public funds and imbued with public interest prevents Cojuangco and his gangland in SMC and their partners in crime in and out of Malacañang cannot sell, dispose or present as collateral the small coconut farmers fund to foreign partners for the Laiban dam project,” Hicap insisted.

Pamalakaya said the campaign of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to convince the small coconut farmers to sell the 24 percent stake in SMC is part of “clearing” to pave way for the expansion of SMC and further empower it to enter into other deals such as the Laiban Dam project with the state-owned Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

“This is all part of the concessions granted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Cojuangco in exchange for the political support of Ms Arroyo’s most prized and cherished crony in the person of Cojuangco,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said it has these last seven words for Malacañang and Cojuangco in connection with the coconut levy funds and the Laiban Dam project: “Do not touch the coconut levy funds.”

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged all the presidential candidates in the May 2010 presidential elections to speak out against the looming joint venture between Cojuangco and MWSS to develop Laiban dam as alternative source of bulk water for Metro Manila.

The group lamented that leading presidential hopefuls have yet to issue an official statement regarding the P 52-billion ambitious Laiban dam project, which the fisherfolk leader said is awarded by Malacañang to Cojuangco in silver platter, being Ms Arroyo’s most cherished crony.

“We are extremely puzzled by the deafening silence of all presidential wannabes on this particular, yet mind-boggling and nerve wracking project of the original Pacman and the present occupant in Malacañang. The Filipino public is waiting for their official response on this gigantic and destructive water escapade of Danding and President Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya.

The group urged presidential candidates Senators Manny Villar, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Mar Roxas, Vice President Noli de Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to reveal their views and personal assessment on the revived Laiban dam project that will entail the destruction of about 28,000 hectares of watershed area on the slope of Sierra Madre mountain range.

“The Cojuangco-MWSS Laiban dam deal is a lucid testimony that Danding is the certified no.1 crony and the most esteemed client of the Macapagal-Arroyo government. How the presidentiables would address or go about it is the top 64-dollar question at the moment,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teodoro Casiño and Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, supported by six other militant lawmakers—Satur Ocampo and Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela party list and Rep. Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis were the only members of Congress who have spoken all out against the project, adding that the two militant lawmakers this week filed a house resolution seeking an investigation on the P 52-billion Laiban dam deal between Cojuangco’s SMC and MWSS.

“If the presidentiables are really after the national and collective interest of the people, they will support the militant lawmakers’ resolution and will file the same resolution calling on the Senate to conduct its own inquiry against this highly secretive, anti-people and anti-environment deal,” the group said.

The dam will be built at the Kaliwa River Basin in Tanay. More than a week ago, SMC President Ramon Ang announced that the food and beverage conglomerate will tap Japanese investors for the 1 billion dollar Laiban dam project. Ang said one foreign partner will provide technical expertise, while the other foreign partner will provide the financial muscle for the project.

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