The Metropolitan Water and Sewer System and its two concessionaires, Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company, Inc., have unlocked a development fund for Indigenous Peoples (PA) and local farmers in Bulacan.
The development fund, which amounts to nearly 37 million pesos, was intended for farmers and PAs living in the construction area of â€‹â€‹the major MWSS projects, namely the water transmission improvement project of ‘Angat (AWTIP) or Tunnel 4, or the area where MWSS concessionaires have been authorized to tap water, namely the Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (AMRIS).
MWSS President and Trustee Reynaldo V. Velasco said AWTIP is a classic example of the importance of engagement, collaboration, partnership and respect in gaining PA approval in any project. development in their ancestral domain.
The AWTIP or Tunnel 4 is located in the ancestral 0.685 hectare domain of the IPs of Sitio Ipo, Bgy. San Mateo, Norzagaray Bulacan.
It involves the construction of a new tunnel in the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system, which currently supplies most of the water needs of Metro Manila.
The MWSS said that AWTIP is a critical part of the MWSS water security program, as it mitigates the risk of partial or total disruption of the Metro Manila water supply.
The National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) classified the project as non-extractive, non-intrusive and small-scale.
The MWSS said that IPs and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs), in particular the ICC of Dumagat and IPs from the ancestral domain of Kabayunan in Dona Remedios Trinidad and Norzagaray, Bulacan, have expressed their support for the project after free consent, prior and informed (FPIC) required. the processes of consultation, community assemblies, consensus building and decision making were carried out by the MWSS.
â€œCommunity participation is always essential to identify local needs and the MWSS has provided an appropriate response from the IPS,â€ said Velasco.
â€œReaching unanimous agreement has not always been easy, but the strong relationship that the MWSS has maintained with the PAs / ICCs paved the way for the signing of the MOA. [Memorandum of Agreement],” he added.
The MOA includes indigenous defined FPIC processes, self-determined development plans and a community development fund of 20 million desks.
In a related development, Velasco also announced the release of financial support worth 16.25 million pesos to the 6,500 farmers of the AMRIS Federation of Irrigators Association, Inc.
The financial assistance came in the wake of the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Due to the drought and the repair of the Bustos dam in May 2020, the MWSS asked the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to increase the allocation for domestic use of Metro Manila to support the strong demand in water due to COVID-19.
MWSS then called on its two concessionaires to subscribe and finance equally the financial assistance to the farmers who will be affected by this decision.
â€œWith the help of the NIA, we were able to select the qualified beneficiaries. With gratitude, I would like to thank Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company, Inc., for making the necessary compensation payment to beneficiary farmers, â€said Velasco.
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