Quakes may be a warning on Kaliwa Dam, say critics
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — Noting the earthquakes that continue to rock the country, critics of the P18.7-billion Kaliwa Dam have asked President Rodrigo Duterte and dam proponents to stop the project.
Fr. Pete Montallana, chair of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNA), said the quakes were Mother Earth’s means of warning people about activities that harm the environment and put human lives at great risk.
“These series of deadly earthquakes could be one of her messages, which the dam proponents should seriously consider,” Montallana said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
“Hear and feel the trembling grounds. Clearly, Mother Earth is angry and we should beware,” activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes said in a separate phone interview.
Two earthquakes rocked Cotabato and parts of Mindanao on Wednesday, right after a powerful temblor left at least seven people dead on Tuesday.
The tremors struck two weeks after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake jolted the same area on Oct. 16. Late last month, a 6.4-magnitude quake shook the Davao region.
On April 22, Earth Day, a 6.1-magnitude quake struck Castillejos, Zambales, leaving 16 people dead.
“Nature has her own way of talking to us. And God is now warning us,” Reyes said.
In an open letter to President Duterte in November, the SSMNA and other civic groups noted that as Manila prepares for the so-called “Big One,” “the proposed Kaliwa Dam will be constructed within a zone of two active tectonics — the Philippine Fault Zone and the Valley Fault System.”
The environment advocates expressed fears that if another dam breaks because of an earthquake, it could trigger a repeat of the 2004 destructive floods in northern Quezon.
In 2004, the Agos River between Infanta and General Nakar overflowed because of heavy rains from three successive typhoons. More than 900 people in Infanta died while fatalities in General Nakar reached several hundreds, including more than 100 Agta tribal members.
Mr. Duterte on Monday warned that he would use all the powers of the presidency to ensure the construction of the P18.7-billion China-funded Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon and Rizal provinces.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had already granted an “environmental compliance certificate” to the project designed to solve the water shortage in Metro Manila and nearby areas.—DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.
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