Unreasonable opposition

"Why go against the construction of the Kaliwa Dam?"


Various groups in the opposition made up of the usual Yellows, the Liberal Party, the obscurantist clergy and the hastily organized front-organizations of the vociferous Left now called Sector and People Opposed to Kaliwa Dam (STOP Kaliwa) has been formed to purposely oppose the construction of the Kaliwa Dam. Their argument of defending the rights of the indigenous people is clearly obstructionist and senseless.

Before that, the hypocrites simply allowed our indigenous brothers to roam and fend for their survival in the forest areas. These anti-progress rascals are again extorting our people to oppose but refuse to offer any logically and scientific explanation why they are passionately against the building of a dam that would add to the supply of potable water to the already teeming population in Metropolitan Manila area.

They recklessly continue to sow disenchantment to hide their motive that is pointed to as absolutely bankrupt while advancing the interest of their foreign brokers to stall progress and development in this country.

In a news release by this motley band calling itself STOP Kaliwa, they cited three main reasons, to wit: 1) The project violates legal processes and would displace thousands of indigenous peoples. Accordingly, the project failed to secure the Free Prior and Informed Consent from the indigenous settlers as shown by allegations that the National Commission on Indigenous People, the MWSS and some local officials are railroading the legal processes. 2) The project will cause long-term, irreversible environmental damage to the Sierra Made and its biodiversity. They claim the project violates the National Integrated Protected Areas System, and has not secured the Environmental Compliance Certificate from the DENR. And 3) The project will initiate loan from China whose terms and onerous and unnecessary. It said, the loan will require at least 10.37 billion with interest rate at 2 percent as well as an upfront spending of around P2 billion from the national treasury.

The oppositors should have raised valid and more intelligent arguments that the new dam will provide additional 600 cubic liters of water daily to Metro Manila and nearby residents starting 2023. This band of hecklers cannot just make a sweeping generalization that it will displace our indigenous settlers on the Sierra Madre. There is already an estimate of the total land area that will be submerged as a result of the damming and the number of people that will be affected like what China did to elevate to higher grounds houses, temples and churches, monuments and even cultural sites like their construction of the Three Gorges Dam in the Yangtze River.

These agitators cannot simply demand compliance to the National Integrated Protected Areas System or in securing from settlers Free Prior and Informed Consent before they will be given clearance of ECC by the DENR. Compliance from NIPAS and FPIC are contestable issues raised and purposely rooted on ideological grounds to stall the construction of the dam.

Even their oligarch brethrens like Ayala of Manila Water and Pangilinan of Maynilad Water have given their go-signal knowing they will earn more from the project. They even demand the equivalent payment for relocation to clear the areas to speed up the construction.

To be precise, the lands that will be affected are not agricultural, but forest lands falling under the category of lands of the public domain. Whatever fruits and products derived by the settlers does not strictly fall under the category of agricultural products where labor have been systematically applied as farmers do to till the land they own. Thus, lands falling under the NIPAS and FPIC being forest lands are considered forest products such as timber, logs including minerals found therein.

They cannot be converted to disposable public land without a law passed by Congress, specifically disposing them as private lands. It cannot even be said they have prior rights over these lands like farmers claiming the area as agricultural lands. Forest lands are intended to be preserved to its state of nature to ensure that water that flows into river and settle in the dam will remain pristine and clean. This explains why it is prohibited for settlers, farmers or corporations to engage any activity like cultivating the land for farming or from engaging in any commercial, industrial and mining activity in the areas classified as forest lands.

Nonetheless, the clerics are again most vocal in opposing the construction using our indigenous settlers, which are nomadic settlers who subsist in hunting and gathering of forest products as the Aetas and the Dumagats. More than that, the government has already offered them relocation sites away from the dam and its tributary streams to cause pollution.

Strangely enough, they refuse to talk of the interest for the loan granted by China for which the Philippine will only have to come out with a 15 percent upfront with China shouldering 85 percent. It would appear they are siding to the objection of the World Bank which the world knows is now desperate in seeking clients gullible enough to pay usurious interest rate to sustain its financial brokers in Washington.

Remember, the clerics have their nasty track record in the infamous Code-NGO where they induced the Arroyo administration to issue government bond in the amount of P10 billion payable in 10 years for a staggering amount of P35 billion. The commission for facilitating the deal was immediately deducted upon the signing of which the bulk went mostly to the Jesuit-controlled NGO and the rest divided by their so-called financial hustlers. To quote what this column wrote on Feb. 2, 2002:

“…on March 6, 2001, with the smell of the Erap administration still around, the Caucus of Development for Non-Governmental Organizations notoriously known as Code-NGO had been nudging the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to move fast on their “project.” The conspirators made sure that the government issue P10 billion worth of zero-coupon bonds to pre-arranged buyer, RCBC-Capital. At 12.75-percent interest, the hustlers got a windfall of P1.8 billion, that by Oct. 16, the whole thing was already a done deal coyly made in the name of the poor named “Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate Empowerment” or PEACE bonds.

The bonds were consigned to RCBC without going through public bidding. The commission obtained by RCBC in its subsequent disposition to RCBC-Capital was in reality a “kickback” given to Code-NGO in the category of a fixer. RCBC settled down to a P239-million underwriter's fee with certain Mayo and Guevarra getting P59 million and P39 million of their respective commissions, and the net of P1.4 billion going to Code-NGO.

To make sure Code-NGO gets the commission intact, the hustlers made it a point that not a centavo will be deducted as tax. It has to be “sweetened” to induce RCBC to bite the contract, like seeking a BIR ruling to have the deal exempted on the ground that the bonds have been classified as certificates of indebtedness and not deposit substitutes as they would only be issued to one buyer. It also accorded them the privilege that gains from the sale, exchange or retirement of said bonds shall not be subject to capital gains tax because they have a maturity of more than five years. Thus, the Monetary Board issued Resolution No. 878 granting “secondary reserve eligibility” to the bonds which was later amended by Resolution No. 1545.

What made the whole thing odious is that the operational expenses incurred negate their messianic claim of wanting to alleviate the poor. In fact, the first beneficiaries were the foundations of leading business monopolists, political kingmakers and do-gooders all rolled into one. The Ayala Foundation got an award of P7.3 million for water system installation project in the Manggahan Floodway, while ABS-CBN obtained P3 million for its so-called women empowerment project, and the rest receiving half a million pesos each.

Ma. Socorro “Marissa” Camacho-Reyes, the sister of Finance Secretary Camacho, acted as the lynchpin, in what was made to appear a transaction between the Bureau of Treasury and RCBC. The 12 national NGOs and five regional networks, were in fact acting in behalf of “Peace, Equity, and Access for Community Empowerment Foundation headed by a cleric identified as Fr. Noel Vasquez. With Danilo Songco acting as the overall coordinator, a member of the board of the DBP, and the “kickbacks” going to the Foundation headed by the husband of then DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman.

The Code-NGO’s swindling did not produce a drop of water, but only their saliva as capital to be truly called manna from heaven.

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Topics: Liberal Party , Sector and People Opposed to Kaliwa Dam , Kaliwa Dam , National Commission on Indigenous People
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