10 million signatures sought to convince Duterte to stop Kaliwa Dam work

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — A nationwide campaign was launched on Wednesday to put a stop to the China-funded Kaliwa Dam Project.

The Stop Kaliwa Dam Network, composed of various groups, said they are targeting getting 10 million signatures online and offline to send a strong message to President Rodrigo Duterte that the construction of the dam will only negatively impact the environment and indigenous people living in the area.

In the group's petition, they said the project violates the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act because the dam is set to be built in the ancestral domain of the Dumagat-Remontados in Quezon Province. The tribe said over 18,000 IPs will be forced to leave their homes. They also claimed the project failed to secure the "Free Prior and Informed Consent" from the IPs, saying concerned government agencies and local officials manipulated and railroaded legal processes.

A 27-kilometer tunnel will connect the water source from General Nakar-Infanta in Quezon to a water treatment plant in Antipolo-Teresa in Rizal to supply water to Metro Manila and nearby areas.

The group also pointed out the environmental hazards of pushing through with the Kaliwa Dam construction, noting the "long-term and irreversible" damage to the Sierra Madre.

It also highlighted that the project will be another addition to the allegedly onerous loans from China. Of the $231.59-billion project, $211.215 billion will be loaned from China. The Kaliwa Dam contract provides for a two-percent annual interest for 20 years, although repayments will only be 13 years to make way for a seven-year grace period. The Philippines will also have to pay an additional $633.644 million within a month after the loan is availed, representing a management fee worth 0.3 percent of the loan amount, plus an annual commitment fee priced at 0.3 percent.

The group said that the Kaliwa Dam is not the solution to Metro Manila's water woes. They urged the government to look for alternatives that will not be at the expense of indigenous peoples.

There’s a pending petition before the Supreme Court to strike down the government’s loan deal with China for the construction of Kaliwa Dam. In the petition filed by the Makabayan bloc on May 9, they cited the track record of Chinese contractors and their alleged fraudulent and substandard work.

The Duterte administration targets to start the construction by July to provide 600 million liters of water per day to Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

CNN Philippines correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.