Bishop Valentin Dimoc, Apostolic Vicar of Bontoc-Lagawe, made a statement urging the government to protect the environment and the indigenous peoples (IPs) that will be affected by the proposed Kaliwa Dam project.
“[The Kaliwa Dam] threatens the integrity and the way of life of the Dumagat-Remontado tribes,” Bishop Dimoc, who is also the head of the CBCP’s Commission on Indigenous Peoples, said during his Homily. “So they need to be protected because their lives are being threatened by this kind of project.” (Read: ‘Lifting of Mining Ban a Sign That Election Is Nearing’ – Bishop Pabillo)
The bishop added that when people respect and protect our IPs, we also protect the environment. “We protect the IPs, we protect the integrity of the environment. We exert effort to protect nature, we also protect the IPs,” he said.
“This is what it means to celebrate the Season of Creation and conclude it with the IP Sunday.”
A China-funded project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Kaliwa Dam is said to become a “new centennial water source” once completed. However, its construction will not only destroy parts of Sierra Madre–a habitat to many endemic species to the Philippines–but it will also displace many IPs who live in the area.
It has also previously been flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) for not being able to present a proof of compliance of environmental prerequisites and submission of necessary permits. (Read: Laudato Si A ‘Social’ Encyclical, Too –Pope Francis)
But despite the controversy the project is facing, the government announced back in March that the Kaliwa Dam is pushing through, and the tunnelling equipment was set to arrive in May. The tunnel equipment will be used to by the Chinese construction firms to start digging for the integrated reservoir that will border the provinces of Rizal and Quezon.