21 February 2023
Manila, Philippines/Bogor, Indonesia
We, land rights advocates from the National Land Coalition in the Philippines (NLC Ph) and the International Land Coalition (ILC) Asia jointly express our solidarity with the Dumagat Remontado as they undertake the Alay Lakad Laban sa Kaliwa Dam (March Against the Kaliwa Dam) to urge the Philippine President to put a stop to the Construction of the Kaliwa Dam. On 13 February 2023, the leadership of the Dumagat Remontado indigenous peoples sent a letter to His Excellency President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressing their grave concern for the ongoing construction of the dam that will put the lives and livelihoods of their communities in danger as well as the lives and livelihoods of downstream communities, including residents of the National Capital Region.
We call the attention of the President to genuinely look into the violations of the rights of the Dumagat Remontado committed by government agencies in the manipulation of the conduct of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for the Kaliwa Dam. Despite clear expression of non-consent to the project by the majority, five out of six representatives of the Dumagat Remontado communities during the FPIC process, the Certificate of Precondition for the Kaliwa Dam project was still issued based on a community assembly where government agencies had already pre-selected the representation from the communities. The final community assembly where consent was allegedly issued was outside of the official FPIC recognition process in promulgated guidelines. This has been reported and affirmed by the sister of the President, Senator Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Remedios Romualdez Marcos, Chair of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples on several occasions of the Senate Inquiry on the Kaliwa Dam project.
Upholding the integrity of FPIC is a commitment of the Philippine government to the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007 (UNDRIP), which it is a signatory. The national legal framework of the Philippines in fact predates the UNDRIP where the fundamental law of the country, the 1987 Constitution guarantees respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands. This is further elaborated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) which recognizes the rights of IPs to their ancestral domains, self-governance, and cultural integrity. The IPRA recognizes the ownership of IPs over their traditional territories which include land, bodies of water, and all-natural resources therein, and provides for the observance of FPIC through implementing rules and regulations promulgated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Many nations in the world have taken inspiration from the IPRA as a landmark policy that upholds the rights of indigenous peoples to their territories and natural resources. However, despite this, the rights of the Dumagat Remontado are not protected when it comes to exercising their right to say no to large-scale projects such as the Kaliwa Dam.
With the climate crisis, to which the Philippines is among the most vulnerable, the country could not afford to lose more of its remaining forests and biodiversity, especially those found in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. The ever-increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions have affected the lives of all Filipinos and caused severe damage to the economy, most felt by priority sectors of the Administration such as infrastructure and agriculture. The dam construction would further exacerbate the effects of climate change already felt by local communities. It would risk catastrophic collapse that may cause inundation of downstream communities in the Provinces of Rizal, Quezon and the National Capital Region.
As a coalition of 9 national and regional networks in the Philippines, in alliance with 59 organizations working for people-centred land governance in 14 countries in Asia, the NLC Philippines and ILC Asia support its members who have worked tirelessly to push for policies that make land governance inclusive. Together we call on the Government of the Philippines to:
- Immediately halt the construction of the Kaliwa dam
- For the NCIP to genuinely listen to the voices of the Dumagat Remontado and act on behalf of their interests as the agency primarily mandated to protect the rights of indigenous peoples
- Rescind the issuance of the Certificate of Precondition based on documented violations of rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the indigenous Dumagat Remontado communities
- Consider alternatives to address the water crisis in Metro Manila that are more sustainable and that respect the rights of the Dumagat Remontado community over their traditional territories and natural resources
We also call other civil society and grassroots organizations working on the issues of land rights and indigenous peoples to share your support by signing this online petition.
For more information, please contact
Timothy Salomon (Tagalog, English)
NLC Philippines Facilitator
Andita Listyarini (Bahasa Indonesia, English)
Communications Officer, ILC Asia