Statements: Opposing large dams


March 14, 2018

Land is life for indigenous peoples. Land does not only mean the ground where they build houses, hunt and do agricultural work. The ancestral domain includes rivers and all the resources and creatures that thrive therein. Large dams that are planned to be built by this administration pose serious threats to the rivers and ancestral land of indigenous peoples.

Dam projects that were planned by past administrations and are being implemented at present include the Kaliwa Dam, Alimit Dam, Balog-balog and Jalaur Dam. Also proposed to be built are the Violago dam in Rizal and the Chico River Pump Irrigation project, which will affect indigenous communities as well. Many of these projects are funded through official development assistance from China.

March 14 is International Day of Action for Rivers, Waters and Life. On this day we celebrate the struggles of peoples around the world fighting against large dams. We support and amplify the demands of indigenous peoples to stop the construction of these gigantic structures. The dismal experience of indigenous peoples with the construction and operation of the Ambuklao, Binga, Pulangi IV, Pantabangan, Casecnan and San Roque dams teach us lessons not worth replicating in other communities.

The actual and expected displacement, flooding, soil erosion, siltation of rivers and loss of biodiversity are enough reasons to stop these dams from being built. Another concern is that these projects are being implemented without genuine free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the affected indigenous communities located upstream and downstream of the dams. Already, opposition by indigenous peoples’ organizations, communities and advocates is alive and growing.

The opposition against large dams have brought out victories in the delay and stopping of such projects. This is despite the killings of key opposition leaders now and in the past. This day, we remember the heroism of Macliing Dulag, Nicanor delos Santos, Jose Doton, Margarito Cabal, William Bugatti. We also demand justice for the killing of Ricardo Mayumi, leader of the Ifugao Peasant Movement. He was active and vocal against the hydropower project of Sta. Clara Power Corp. He was killed in his house in Ambabag, Kiangan Ifugao on the evening of March 2. Our continued opposition is an assurance that the sacrifice of their lives will not go to waste.

We call on the government to rethink its policies and control its obsessive building of large dam structures on rivers that pass through indigenous peoples’ territories. The purported benefits such as electricity, irrigation and water supply are not worth the invaluable lands, lives, livelihoods and cultures that will be lost. The poverty situation will only worsen as electricity and water services coming from these dams are not free. In fact, prices of electricity, water for irrigation and water for household use may even increase because these utilities will be owned and operated by private corporations whose purpose is to produce maximum profit for their investors. Let’s also not forget that these projects are largely funded through loans that Filipino citizens are expected to pay.

We therefore call out for greater support to stop the construction of large dams. Instead, renewable energy systems that are small-scale, community-based, community-initiated, environment-friendly and culturally appropriate have proven to be the better option for genuine and self-determined development of rural communities and indigenous peoples.

Respect the rights of IPs to land, life, resources and self-determination!
Stop building large dams in indigenous peoples’ territories! 
Let our rivers flow! #


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