Ailing Dumagat leader dies after joining protest march vs dam
LUCENA CITY—A Dumagat tribe leader in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges died from an illness he kept secret from his colleagues after participating in the nine-day 150-kilometer protest march against the controversial Kaliwa Dam last month.
Hernanie Guevarra, 47, leader of a tribal community in the mountain village of Pagsangahan in General Nakar in Quezon province, was buried on Sunday, according to Dumagat leader Marcelino Tena.
Tena said Guevarra kept his respiratory illness secret so he could join the protest march from Quezon province to Malacañang to raise their concern before President Marcos.
On Feb. 15, more than 300 members of the indigenous community from the Sierra Madre and representatives of multisectoral organizations started the march to dramatize their opposition to the dam project that would inundate their villages. However, they were not allowed to get close to Malacañang and failed to meet the President.
“On the fifth day of the march, he (Guevarra) was already not feeling well and just took native medicines. He endured his illness and persevered to complete the march,” Tena told the Inquirer by phone on Sunday.
Guevarra finally succumbed to pulmonary edema and died on March 8, leaving behind his wife and four children, said Tena.
“He was an inspiration. We all vowed that we will continue our vigilant opposition to the Kaliwa Dam,” Tena added.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System has long been pushing for the construction of the P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam to address a projected water crisis in Metro Manila.
The project, however, will submerge parts of the Sierra Madre in Tanay town of Rizal province, and General Nakar and Infanta towns in Quezon.