January 24, 2010 in Featured
QUEZON CITY — Instead of a peaceful dialog, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Eleazer Quinto snubbed the indigenous peoples and security officers met and violently dispersed the peace contingent.
In a press statement, the indigenous peoples’ partylist KATRIBU and the indigenous Remontados and Dumagats of Rizal travelled to Manila for a peaceful dialog with the newly appointed environment czar to negotiate the previous environment secretary’s pro-corporate and anti-environment action and instead uphold a pro-people environmental policy in relation to the Laiban dam .
The call of the indigenous peoples, however, fell on deaf ears. Instead the security personnel of the department violently pushed the indigenous away from the gate of the DENR where a group was staging a protest program.
According to Nelson Mallari, Katribu secretary-general and third nominee, “We came here to call on the DENR secretary to stop the impending construction of the proposed Laiban dam project. We want him to deny or cancel the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the San Miguel Corporation and Manila Water and Sewerage System (MWSS).”
Mallari, an Aeta of Floridablanca, Pampanga, said, “Unfortunately for us, this harsh treatment was the only answer we got from Quinto,” Mallari added.
Laiban dam danger to the indigenous peoples
“The construction of the Laiban dam not only pose grave danger to the rich biodiversity of the Sierra Madre ranges. It will also take away the ancestral lands of the Dumagat and Remontados of Rizal and Northern Quezon, the source of their livelihood,” he said.
KATRIBU likewise asked the environment secretary to adhere to the United Nations declaration of the protection of the biodiversity.
“The whole international community is calling for the protection of the environment and climate mitigation and yet the Philippine government is doing otherwise. It implements environmentally destructive policies that include the building of mega dams and the approval large scale mining application and operations,” Katribu Partylist Chair and first nominee Beverly Longid said.
Longid, who used to chair the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance is a Bontoc and Kankanaey of Sagada, Mountain Province.
“We should be warned by the tragedy that indigenous peoples and our lowland neighbors experienced resulting from floods brought about by mega dams such as the San Roque dam in Northern Luzon,” Longid added.
Longid urged the new secretary not to be swayed by the propaganda of the corporate bullies in the MWSS and the San Miguel Corporation (SMC). “The claim of these companies that we are lacking water is a hoax. The harp of a water crisis they feed the media is meant to justify their corporate interests and greed,” she said.
“The government should verify first its own data before they give in to the lies that we face a water crisis. No less than Local Water Utility Administration (LWUA) claims that there is no “water crisis” contrary to the MWSS claims,”
The group reiterates its call for the government institutions to genuinely prioritize the interests of the people and the environment over the profit-driven private corporations.
“It’s high time that the environment department should take a higher moral ground and stand with the people and deviate from the twisted policy of selling and destroying our land and environment,” Longid said. # nordis.net