The Round Table Discussion (RTD) on Mega Dams and Water was held recently at the Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. The RTD was organized by the Freedom from Debt Coalition(FDC), with funding from the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), to provide a venue for sharing among various communities, organizations and advocates who are impacted by, or are involved in campaigns against large dams.

The activity was attended by 31 representatives of national NGOs, social movements, dam-affected communities and indigenous peoples, including local organizations like Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy-Iloilo (RISE-Iloilo), Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc. of Bulacan, Task Force Sierra Madre for a Balanced Ecology and the Tribal Center for Development (Quezon and Aurora). The participants braved the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda to share information and experiences with other groups campaigning against large dams."

The RTD discussed the major impacts of large dams and included inputs from three major dam campaigns against 1) the so-called Centennial Dams in the Sierra Madre mountains of Luzon; 2) the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II in Iloilo province in the Visayas; 3) the Pulangi V Hydropower project in Bukidnon province in Mindanao.

Recognizing the fact that dam campaigns in the country have been mostly confined to local struggles, the second part of the program dealt with the possibility of building a broad (national) network of dam campaigners in the Philippines. The RTD, along with subsequent fora in Mindanao and the Visayas is also viewed as part of the build up activities for a National Freshwater Conference in 2014 to discuss the myriad issues related to water.

Finally, the RTD was held on November 9, as the Philippines’ contribution to the Global Day of Action Against Dams, held on the same day in other parts of the world. The Day of Action Against Dams is part of a month long international series of activities under Reclaim Power’s Month of Action on Energy.

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