President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said he is considering the use of “extraordinary powers of the presidency” to fast-track the construction of the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project to prevent another water crisis in Metro Manila.
“I will use the extraordinary powers of the presidency. I could not just allow people to go about without water even for drinking,” Duterte said in a media interview in Malacañang.
Duterte said despite opposition by groups, which claimed that the construction of the Kaliwa Dam would displace indigenous peoples (IPs), he said he felt it would benefit more people.
“I’m taking stock of my options such as expropriation or outright police power…You just go to court and file a case if you want. I am there and I will start to find a way how to connect the water to the people,” he said.
The President said the government could easily place “safeguards” for the land and people that may be affected by the construction of the China-funded dam.
“Kung yung concern ninyo (If your concern is) local governments…it will pollute, it will destroy, I’ll just say to the kung sino mag ano (to whoever is in charge), you just place the safeguards,” Duterte said.
“It might create some danger and damage but that is not my concern. My concern is the welfare. The greatest good for the greatest number. That is democracy,” he added.
Asked to comment on the Commission on Audit (COA) report which showed that the bidding on the dam project was “in the guise of being a competitive procurement process”, Duterte said that he could take over the project himself.
“I will go there and operate it myself. I will take over and I will direct what to do. Ganun lang ‘yun. Hindi ninyo kaya? O sige ako, alis kayo diyan (That’s how it is. You can’t do it? Okay, I’ll do it. Get out of there),” Duterte said.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the government can still rescind its contract on the China-funded dam if investigation results show it may be disadvantageous to the country.
The Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province is expected to provide an additional 600 million liters a day (MLD) of water to Metro Manila and environs. (PNA)