Panalipdan hits proposed “win-win solution” in using Tamugan River

Dec. 09, 2009

DAVAO CITY—Environmental rights network, Panalipdan–Southern Mindanao expressed an indignant response to the so called ‘win-win solution’ proposed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on the water sharing of Hedcor-Aboitiz and Davao City Water District (DCWD) of the Tamugan-Panigan rivers.

“The issue on the utilization of the Tamugan – Panigan rivers and watershed is not about what agency has the right to use it or if it could be shared by the DCWD and Hedcor. The main issue that should be addressed is how these agencies should keep their hands off this watershed that is categorized as critical and is in fact off-limits to any developmental use by virtue of the Davao City Watershed Code,” said Francis Morales, spokesperson – convener of Panalipdan – SMR.

“It is lamentable that the Unesco and DOST forum have given more importance to the corporate interests of companies who are after our watershed rather than upholding the people’s rights to water and the protection of the Tamugan – Panigan watershed from corporate plunder and destruction,” Morales added.

Panalipdan–SMR has long been campaigning for the cancellation of Hedcor’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) as well as the National Water Regulatory Board’s (NWRB) nod to Hedcors application for water rights permit.

Morales also pointed out that the win-win solution being proposed by Hedcor, DOST and the Unesco may be part of conditioning the public opinion to the eventual DCWD-Hedcor collaboration in sharing of the rivers.

“We urge the City Council to act prudently on this matter which underscores environmental protection and defense of the peoples’ consumer rights in contrast to the systematic plunder of our water resources for corporate gain and profit,” Morales urged.

Citing a statement of University of the Philippines economist Dr. Maria Diokno-Pascual, Panalipdan-SMR debunked the urgent necessity for additional energy supply for Mindanao.

In her study of the Hedcor project, Pascual said the threat of a power crisis has been often used to force the public to accept their power projects. “Often times when you look at the time when the supposed crisis should have hit, the supply of electricity is in abundance because of the wrong projections made.” She also pointed out that Mindanao has the least energy requirement as compared to the Visayas and Luzon.”

“Our network, which is composed of 36 environmental and peoples’ organizations in the region, is similarly alarmed that the DCWD’s proposed surface water development in the watershed may lead to the privatization of the DCWD which is among the few remaining public water utilities in the country,” Morales added.

Morales also said that surface water development projects in Cagayan, Manila, Iloilo and in other provinces have ultimately led to the privatization of water utilities as these kinds of projects require huge budget—a situation that paves the way for corporate take-over.

For reference:

Francis Morales

Spokesperson and convener

Mobile phone number: 0939-4818848

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