Members of the Agta or Dumagat tribe and their supporters arrived yesterday in Manila after a 148-kilometer march to oppose the multi-billion-peso Laiban dam project in Tanay, Rizal. The protesters see the dam project as anti-environment, anti-development and anti-human rights.The dam reservoir of 28,000 hectares is set to displace 4,413 families from seven barangays. Legally-protected rainforest areas housing endemic and endangered species are set to be buried underwater as part of the dam reservoir area, along with areas being claimed as ancestral lands by the Dumagats and Remontados.(source: FDC)
The Agta/Dumagat tribe is the largest population of indigenous people in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. The dam's construction poses a threat not only to their habitat, but to their culture and traditions as well, of which are inextricably woven to the forest and the mountain.
"The construction of Laiban Dam, a joint venture of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and San Miguel Bulk Water Co., will also destroy habitats of endemic and endangered species in the town’s forested areas." (source: PDI).
Big business over indigenous people's rights? No contest. Unless the Agta and civil society supporters generate enough public interest and sustain it for the duration of the campaign.