Press Release: Indigenous women’s action for Women’s Day
“Ang lupa ay ginawa hindi para lunurin sa tubig. (Land was not created to be drowned in water)”.
8 March 2019, Quezon City – This is a line in the song sang in Dumagat, translated into Filipino, by the indigenous women in front of the building of Metro Manila Water Sewerage System (MWSS) early this morning, as offering was made by a Dumagat woman leader.
To mark today’s celebration of the International Women’s Day, indigenous women led by Dumagat women, held a short symbolic action to express their opposition to the Kaliwa Dam project of MWSS. The offering of soil and mama (betel nut), speaks of their connection to the land, and their desire for peace, and harmony with nature.
“Pinipilit ang Kaliwa Dam na ito sa aming mga lupaing ninuno. Kung payagan naming ang proyektong ito para na rin naming pinayagan ang pagkalunod ng 5 barangay sa Rizal at 2 sa aming probinsya ng Quezon (“They have insisted to pursue the Kaliwa project on our ancestral domain. Our consent to this dam is like giving consent to submerge five barangays in Rizal, and another two in our province Quezon.”),” according to Remedios Marquez, an indigenous woman leader of the Dumagat people in Quezon.
“Kami naman ay handang magbahagi sa iba ng biyaya mula sa likas yaman sa loob ng aming lupaing ninuno. Pero sana naman ay huwag sa ikasasalanta ng aming kabuhayan, tirahan, at kultura (We are willing to share the riches of the resources within our ancestral domain, but not at the expense of our livelihoods, and our way of life.),” added Ms. Marquez.
The Kaliwa Dam which costs PhP 18.724 Billion, will be developed to meet the increasing water demand by consumers in Metro Manila. The construction funds will come from a loan with China.
“Ang patuloy na di pagkilala sa aming sariling pagpapasya bilang mga katutubo ay isang porma ng karahasan laban sa aming kababaihan. Kaya kami, mula sa Aeta community, ay kasama sa pagtutol ng Kaliwa Dam (The continuing disrespect to our right to self-determination as indigenous people is a form of violence against women. That is why we Aeta indigenous women join the protest against Kaliwa Dam”)”, said Teresa dela Cruz, from Zambales province.
According to Judy A. Pasimio of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), this dam project is part of the Build, Build, Build Program of the Duterte administration. “Without regard to human rights, and the adverse impact on human lives, especially those of indigenous peoples, this project becomes part of Duterte’s Kill, Kill, Kill program – kill the environment, kill the food sources, kill the communities’ way of life.”
Several human rights groups also joined the protest action – Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Focus on the Global South, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Non-Timber Forest Products –Task Force (NTFP), among others.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, we celebrate the courage of indigenous women who continue to fight for their rights, for the environment, and for a better future, not just for their communities, but for us all,” adds Ms. Pasimio.
[Photo by Susan Corpuz/Lilak]