JOINT STATEMENT
February 17, 2010

We must address the real “water crisis”. Metro Manila's “water crisis” has nothing to do with a deficit in water supply, and everything to do with wasteful water management practices. Officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are saying that we need more water when what we actually need is a better MWSS. The demand projections that are being touted around as the main justification for the dam project are not at all supported by the facts. At best, they are but empty figures.

According to the Freedom from Debt Coalition, we would need only 1260 million liters per day (MLD) to provide each Metro Manila resident with double the minimum volume of 50 liters per capita per day (lcpd) prescribed by the World Health Organization. This required volume of 1260 MLD is barely one-third of our already existing supply. Even in the worst case scenario of an extreme El Nino drought this year, the allocated supply from Angat Dam will not go lower than 3000 MLD. As observed by the National Water Resources Board, the domestic water supply for metro manila would still be manageable but it would be imperative on the MWSS to properly rationalize the distribution of this supply.

The records and statements of both Maynilad and Manila Water support the fact that our water supply is actually sufficient to meet the needs of the coming years. Maynilad Services, for one, is presently using only around 35% of its allocated supply to service its existing customers.

We have an excess in water supply, but deficient and wasteful water management is throwing this excess away. Maynilad's excess water supply of more than 1600MLD, for example, cannot be maximized because it is all lost to a decapitated pipe system that is in need of rehabilitation. And this is where the real “water crisis” actually lies. There are crucial water management issues that must be prioritized and resolved by the MWSS. Instead of blindly pursuing the Laiban Dam project, the following issues should be prioritized in order to truly secure Metro Manila's potable water supply from any crisis of water management:

1. Recovery of non-revenue water losses amounting to 2000 MLD, or half of the existing water supply volume.

2. Exemption of the Angat Dam from the privatization process of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management body.

3. Promotion and inculcation of water conservation measures and habits among Metro Manila consumers, both commercial and residential.

4. Protection and restoration of denuded forests in existing watersheds like Angat and La Mesa to address water losses from the decreased storage capacity of dams as a result of sedimentation.

We must heed the will of the local communities and government units. The dam project is strongly opposed by the local communities in the project area, and this position is also echoed by the local government units themselves. Among the local officials and municipalities opposing the project are:

• Real,Quezon – In a position letter, Real's Municipal Mayor Joel Amando A. Diestro declared his opposition against the proposed dam project in October 22, 2009.

• Infanta, Quezon – The Sangguniang Bayan of Infanta passed Resolution No. 2007-118 in August 10, 2007 declaring their strong opposition to the construction of the dam project.

• General Nakar, Quezon – In September 1 2009, the Sangguniang Bayan of General Nakar also passed, by unanimous vote, Resolution No. 2009-67 to convey their absolute opposition to the dam project.

• Tanay, Rizal – In June 5 2007, The Sangguniang Bayan of Tanay, by a unanimous vote, passed Resolution No.2007-49 entitled “Resolution expressing the Sangguniang Bayan of Tanay's concerns and opposition of the proposed Laiban Dam Project and requesting her excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to permanently cancel the project.”

Apart from these LGU resolutions, various statements have also been issued by the tribal communities of Quezon and Rizal. No less than the tribal governor of Quezon led more than a hundred members of the Dumagat/Aeta tribes in a nine-day march from Infanta to Manila last November 2009 to express their opposition to the dam project. A signature campaign against the project has garnered 2000 signatures. It is a serious violation of the constitutional principle of local autonomy that this dam project should be implemented over and above the strong objections of the local communities and government units of Rizal and Quezon.

The strong voices of opposition against the Laiban Dam cannot be denied. Various parishes both in the local project area and in Metro Manila proper have made their opposition heard. In September 14 2009, no less than the Roman Catholic Bishops of Metro Manila sent a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urging the abandonment of the Laiban Dam project, signed by Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales of the Archdiocese of Manila, and eight bishops in the Metro Manila area. Statements and appeals against the construction of the monster dam have also been circulated by other church units and offices, including the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous People (ECIP), the Prelature of Infanta, and Diocese of Antipolo-Social Action Center (SAC). Various non-governmental and civil society organizations have expressed their objection as well, including the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Haribon Foundation, Green Convergence, Save Sierra Madre Network, and Pakisama, to name a few.

These voices of opposition should be heeded. Yet we are alarmed that the response we have gotten instead is the increased militarization of the project area, culminating in human rights violations against the indigenous people of the Dumagats and Remontados. This is not how democracy should look like.

It bears repeating, because of the reasons stated above and numerous other social and environmental concerns plaguing the proposed project, that we must stop the construction of the Laiban Dam. This project, long plagued by half-starts and controversies for the past 29 years should be finally and completely abandoned by the Philippine government.

In recognition of this pressing need to stop this monstrous project, we the undersigned organizations and individuals below, reaffirm our tremendous opposition against the Laiban Dam. We further resolve to undertake all possible peaceful measures within our capacity to halt the negotiations for and construction of the Laiban Dam Project.

In this regard, we call on the MWSS, DENR, NCIP, and other concerned government agencies to withdraw their support for this damning project.

We also call on the residents and consumers of Metro Manila not to succumb to the baseless threats that are presently being employed to gain public support for the dam project. If this project pushes through, the very lifeblood of the Sierra Madre and its peoples will forever taint the water we drink.

We must all stand by the principles of equity, sustainability and human dignity.


SIGNATORIES:

1. Ruby Ephrim Rubiano, Agham Party-list
2. Ruperto Aleroza, Akbayan Partylist
3. Carmina A. Gutierrez, Alaga LAHAT
4. Patria Gwen M. Borcena, Alternative Research for Empowerment (ALTEResearch)
5. Aurora P. Mansilla, Ang Nars
6. Val Vibal, Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
7. Velvet Roxas, Arugaan
8. Fr. Jesus Malit SSS , Association of Major Religious Superior of the Philippines (men)
9. Sr. Mary John Mananzan OSB, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (women)
10. Joey C. Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
11. Marilou Cueto-Tapia, Builders for Rural Empowerment and Human Rights Advocates Network, Inc.
12. Grace P. Chua, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
13. Rev. Fr. Bienvido Miguel, Jr. , Diocese of Antipolo – Social Action Center
14. Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
15. Jean Enriquez, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
16. Javier M. Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
17. Rei Panaligan, EcoWaste Coalition
18. Dr. Donna Reyes, Environmental Sciences Institute, Miriam College
19. Antonio Abuso, Episcopal Commission on Indigenous People - Natl Secretariat
20. Fr. Victor “Junvic” B. Diulata SSS, Faith-Based Coalition Against Immoral Debts
21. Stemson Pino, Farmers Forum – South Cotabato
22. Sr. Susan Esmile, Francisan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
23. Fr. Rolando Kee Abas OFM, Franciscan Movement for JPIC
24. Milo. N. Tanchuling, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines
25. Erwin Sarmiento, FDC-Davao Chapter
26. Cecille Diono, FDC-SocSkSarGen Chapter
27. Nelia Vibar, FDC Women’s Committee
28. Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South – Philippines program
29. Manny C. Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
30. Fr. John Leydon, Great Work Movement – Philippines
31. Dr. Nina Galang, Green Convergence
32. Blas R. Tabaranza, Haribon Foundation
33. Dr. Melba Padilla Maggay, Institute for Studies of Asian Church and Culture
34. Ms. Lydinyda Nacpil, Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
35. Fr. Benigno P. Beltran SVD, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, SVD Central Province
36. Yolly Esguerra, Kaalagad Katipunang Kristiyano
37. Bibiano C. Rivera, Katipunan para sa Pagpapalaya ng Sambayanan (Kalayaan)
38. Alma Aguja, Kalimudan Culture and Arts Center-Mindanao
39. Charito Anusuncion, Koalisyon Pabahay ng Pilipinas
40. Neneng Jocson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
41. George Dadivas, Kupkop Kita abayan Foundation
42. Judy Pasimio, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kaibigan sa Kalikasan
43. Most Rev.Broderick S. Pabillo DD, National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-NASSA)
44. Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
45. Mr. Arturo Boy Nuera , PANDAYAN
46. Crispin Aguelo, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
47.  Judy Miranda, Partido Manggagawa
48. Dr. Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan Phd, Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
49. Bernardo D. Larin, Philippine NGO-PO Network on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
50. Teody Navea, Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Tagatangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK)
51. Conching Calzado, Sagibin-LN
52. Bro. Martin Francisco BSMP, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.
53. Marie Marciano, Saniblakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan
54. Fr. Pete Montallana OFM, Save Sierra Madre Network
55. Mr. Egay Cabalitan, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
56. Sr. Elizabeth C. Carranza NDS, Task Force Sierra Madre and Sisters of Our Lady of Sion
57. Ramcy Astoveza, Tribal Center for Development
58. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, WomanHealth Philippines
59. Ms. Mae Buenaventura, Women's Legal Bureau
60. Mercedes Villarin, UPCA
61. Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines

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