27 April 2021 – With its continuous commitment to streamline government processes, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) facilitated on Monday a virtual meeting to address issues and concerns on and push for the Kaliwa Dam Project.
ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica led the talks attended by Presidential Adviser on Flagship Programs and Projects and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vivencio Dizon and other officials from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“This is a presidential commitment. ARTA is not just here to facilitate pero meron kaming investigative and enforcement powers to initiate actions pag merong activities na deliberate [ang red tape],” DG Belgica said.
Postponements due to opposition from residents of the affected areas and delays on the issuance of the necessary permits halted the construction of the dam, which was initially scheduled to begin last November 2019 and end in June 2025.
ARTA is calling on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and NCIP to fast track the processing of necessary permits to get the project started, citing provions under the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and Bayanihan 2 laws.
In Republic Act No. 11519 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act, all permits, licenses, clearances and registration requirements are waived for one (1) year except for environmental, health and occupational safety permits, which should be issued within seven (7) working days.
“If you will harmonize that with the current EODB Law, then it is automatically approved by operation of law because they are only given seven (7) days,” DG Belgica stressed.
Secretary Dizon, meanwhile, expressed how valuable the Kaliwa Dam Project would be.
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of this project under [the] Build, Build, Build [program] ni Presidente. Talagang gusto niyang masimulan ito for the water security sa Metro Manila,” the Presidential Adviser on Flagship Programs and Projects said.
According to MWSS chief Reynaldo Velasco, the last dam built to supply water in the country was way back in 1968.
Through the Kaliwa Dam Project or the New Centennial Water Supply Project, the increasing water demand of residents in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the east side is seen to be served by constructing a 60-meter high dam in General Nakar and Infanta in Quezon Province and a tunnel in Tanay, Rizal enabling a water supply of at least 600 million liters per day.
As a conclusion, all parties committed and agreed to accomplish the necessary permits, including those coming from NCIP, in May two months before the President’s last State of the Nation Address.
ARTA also suggested for a weekly meeting to keep track of the progress related to the implementation of Kaliwa Dam Project.