World Water Day serves as an annual reminder to all countries of the importance of water in sustaining life. For indigenous communities, water is as valuable as land in sustaining livelihood and culture. Agriculture—the main livelihood of Indigenous Peoples—depends on water, and without sufficient water supply, daily lives would go on harder. The world’s Indigenous Peoples (IP) are at the forefront of protecting our natural waters; they incorporate into their traditions the practice of keeping it available and accessible to the communities. The Philippine Indigenous Peoples pride themselves on their staunch defense and preservation of the country’s water systems.
Sadly, in current events, WATER IS BECOMING SCARCE. Dams and energy projects sponsored by the state and greedy corporations pose risks to water resources that IP has been preserving for decades. They disguise these projects with the intent of increasing the accessibility of water for those in land-locked areas. But in reality, these projects only serve the greedy interests of big corporations. The dam projects are found mainly on indigenous lands, the construction of which leaves permanent wreckage on the land and environment that the IP depends on.
The government refuses to listen to alternative ways to increase water accessibility and will instead choose what brings more profit. The construction of large dams, such as the Kaliwa, Gened, Saltan, and Jalaur, shall displace many communities. It has instead resulted in militarization and bombings of opposing communities that impact the affected communities’ assertion of free prior informed consent. State forces also continuously red-tag and file fabricated criminal charges against opposing leaders.
The threat of big projects has birthed many mass movements across indigenous communities in the country. The Isneg, the Dumagat, the Remontado, and the peoples of Pinukpok and Balbalan are just a few of those who have committed themselves to building a united force against destructive dam projects. Sectors from many parts of the country continue to support and contribute to the ongoing fight for our water system’s protection and preservation.
We commemorate World Water Day to show the value of our water resources and call for water systems protection. KATRIBU urges everyone to support our call to stop destructive dam projects and push for alternative ways of bringing energy and water to everyone without displacing Indigenous Peoples.