DENR: 'No shortcuts' in ECC application for Kaliwa Dam

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it cannot allow "shortcuts" in the processing of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) application for Kaliwa Dam, which is being eyed as a solution to the water supply problem in Metro Manila and Rizal.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda made the statement on Friday, March 15, shortly after announcing that the DENR will allow the reopening of previously-sealed deep wells amid Manila Water's supply shortage

"For the information of everybody, we can fast-track all the documents...but we cannot shortcut it. Whatever the law says, that is what we'll do. Whatever guidelines of the DENR has, that is what we'll do," Antiporda said.

He said that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has not completed the required documents for the ECC application.

Antiporda said that the MWSS cannot grant the ECC unless all other permits are already in place, such as the local government unit's approval, and consent from the Dumagat tribe residing near the proposed location of the dam in Infanta, Quezon.

"They will also have a hard time explaining it to the people, especially with the IPs (indigenous people)," Antiporda said.

IPs are opposed to the proposed Kaliwa Dam, which was supposed to be a legacy of the Aquino administration. 

Antiporda added that the DENR is also considering other factors in granting an ECC application.

"[I]f you cut a tree, you have to think, how many else will you plant in its place? Those are the things that you should consider, especially the ones close to the water," Antiporda said.

"Is it worth it to cut trees so that there should be water? So we will take care of the trees and leave millions of people unable to drink? So those are the things you have to consider and its also part of DENR’s study." 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said that the water supply shortage would not have happened if the construction of the Kaliwa Dam had pushed through earlier. (READ: 'Inexcusable that gov't is unprepared' for water shortage – Otso Diretso)

Set to be built in the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve, Kaliwa Dam is part of the New Centennial Water Source Project (NCWSP).  According to MWSS website, the NCWSP is expected to use the Kaliwa-Kanan-Agos River Basin as an alternative source of water supply. (READ: MWSS, utility firms to secure enough water supply in 50-year plan)

It was a public-private partnership project during the administration of then-president Benigno Aquino III, but the Duterte administration decided to have funded by official development assistance from China.

The project requires an ECC from DENR to move forward. – Rappler.com