By ARMANDO JACINTO
Spokesperson, NPA Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command
NPA Mt. Sierra Madre Subregional Command
The officers and Red fighters of the Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command (RLRC-NPA-Mt Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog Sub-Regional Command) support the people’s opposition to Sierra Madre Dam Projects.
The two dam projects — Kaliwa Dam and Laiban Dam — would tap water from Agos River in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges supposedly to supply potable water to Metro Manila. These projects are being hailed by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as the New Centennial Water Source Projects under the Public-Private Partnership Program, with a projected budget of PhP88 billion (Kaliwa Dam, PhP23 billion; Laiban Dam, PhP65 billion).
These dam projects would flood 37,700 hectares of watershed areas, including ancestral lands belonging to the indigenous Dumagat and Remontado tribes, and would submerge eight barangays (villages) of Tanay, Rizal, namely, Sta. Ynes, Mamuyao, Tinucan, Cayabu, San Andres, Sto. Nino, Laiban and Daraitan. These will also submerge Barangay Lumutan and part of Barangay Pagsangahan of Gen. Nakar, Quezon. Even the MWSS acknowledged that the dam projects would displace more than 8,000 families living in the area including more than 4,000 families of indigenous Dumagat and Remontado tribal people.
To be constructed in the mountain village of Pagsangahan, General Nakar town, Quezon Province, is the Kaliwa Dam, a 62-meter-high concrete-face, rock-filled dam (CFRD) with a projected capacity of 600 million liters per day (MLD), and will flood a watershed area of more than 9,700 hectares affecting more or less 1,500 families. To be constructed in Barangay Laiban, Tanay, Rizal is the Laiban Dam, a 113-meter-high CFRD with a projected capacity of 1,800 MLD and will inundate more or less 28,000 hectares of watershed areas affecting more or less 7,000 families.
These dam projects had no free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) from the Dumagat and Remontado tribe, as mandated under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act No. 8371, or IPRA of 1997, to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples .
These dam projects were started by the Marcos regime. The succeeding regimes of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo tried to continue but were forced to shelve the projects because of the organized resistance of the people of Rizal and Quezon, supported by the church people, pro-indigenous people individuals, environmentalists, and the armed revolutionary groups led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
Every regime, starting from Marcos and the succeeding regimes, including the much hated Arroyo regime, salivated from the expected profits they would pocket once these projects become operational. They all tried but eventually failed.
Now, it is the US-BS Aquino regime’s time to try to continue this project. In his State of the Nation Address last July 2014, he said that the dam projects in the Sierra Madre were among the several public-private partnership programs he had approved for immediate implementation. The US-BS Aquino regime and his cohorts want to dip their hands and make this project their milking cow. They are not content with pocketing pork barrel funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). This time, BS Aquino wants the people’s funds to be pocketed by his relatives, with the presidential uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco at the helm of the project. The Laiban Dam project is now a joint venture of Danding Cojuangco who owns San Miguel Corporation and the MWSS. The BS Aquino regime is hell-bent to have the Sierra Madre dams constructed even with overwhelming opposition from the people.
To quell the widespread opposition of the people against the dam projects, the BS Aquino regime ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to guard the dams and safeguard the interests of Danding Cojuangco and MWSS. He has unleashed the “Butcher” Philippine Army forces, namely the 1st and 16th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army.
Members of the 16th Infantry Battalion have been strategically deployed in villages that will be submerged by the Laiban Dam project, in the mountain villages of Tanay, Rizal, namely Laiban, Cayabu, Sta- Inez, Tinucan, Mamuyao, San Andres, Sto. Nino, Daraitan and Lumutan, Nakar Quezon. While the 1st Infantry Battalion forces are strategically deployed in Kaliwa Dam area in the mountain villages of Nakar, Quezon namely; Pagsangahan, Umiray, San Marcelino, Canaway and Magsaysay, Infanta, Quezon. These barangays are now teeming with Philippine Army troops with strict orders to suppress and quell the peoples’ movement against the Sierra Madre Dam Projects.
But the people of Rizal and Quezon province will not be cowed. They are determined to oppose the dam projects and with massive protests coupled with the armed resistance of the revolutionary movement in Rizal and Quezon, the wish of BS Aquino regime will surely fail. The efforts of the people together with the revolutionary movement will surely frustrate the ruling regime’s plans.
The Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command – (RLRC-NPA-Mt Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog Sub-Regional Command), with the support of the people, vows to launch tactical offensives to stop the construction of the Sierra Madre Dams and all anti-people projects of the reactionary government posing as development projects.
The successive tactical offensives launched in July 2014 in General Nakar, Quezon, which resulted to five casualties from the government troops, and in Tanay and Montalban, Rizal by members of RLRC-NPA, is a living testament to the increasing capacity of the revolutionary movement in Sierra Madre to punish the plunderers of Mt. Sierra Madre. Together with the people of Rizal and Quezon provinces, we will prevail against the onslaught of the BS Aquino regime and his AFP mercenaries. The dam projects will be stopped and the ancestral lands of the Dumagat and Remontado tribes will be free from environmental destruction.