Former congressman and now Quezon Governor Danilo Suarez has vowed to lead the provincial government in taking legal action against proponents of the P12-billion Kaliwa dam project which he believes will submerge areas in Quezon and Rizal provinces.
This developed as various sectoral groups stepped up their moves to stop the government from implementing the project under a joint venture agreement of the state-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the China Energy Engineering Corporation.
The Alyansa Laban sa Mapaniil na Dam (ALMA! Dam) and the Sectors and Peoples Totally Opposed to the Kaliwa Dam (STOP Kaliwa Dam Network) on Sunday led a mass mobilization in Infanta, Quezon to call for the cancellation of the Kaliwa Dam Project and the rehabilitation and protection of the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Suarez, who used to be a minority leader at the Lower House, said the provincial government of Quezon is standing firm in opposing the project.
He noted that recent floods triggered by the Magat Dam in Region II and and Angat Dam in Region III serve as a portent of things to come if Kaliwa Dam is implemented.
In a meeting with members of the Save Sierra Madre network, Suarez said the project cannot be implemented for as long as he is governor of Quezon.
He warned that appropriate cases will be filed in court if proponents of the project will insist on pushing through with the project.
The governor lamented that the government will again resort to borrowing in order to implement the project.
The Kaliwa dam was initially planned to be implemented in the 1980s when the then Marcos administration claimed that water in Metro Manila will be depleted if it is not constructed.
More than 500 people took part in the mobilization on Sunday, including residents of the Real, Infanta, General Nakar (REINA) in Quezon and representatives from various sectors – bikers and riders, youth groups, Dumagat representatives from Quezon and Rizal, fisherfolks from SAVED Rizal, and the Urban Poor Alliance committee and other flood-affected communities in Metro Manila.
“Today we remember the flash floods and landslides in 2004 brought by Typhoon Winnie, exacerbated by illegal logging in the Sierra Madre. This tragic event killed more than 1,500 people and caused millions worth of damages,” oppositors said in a statement.
Conrad Vargas, one of the convenors of the STOP Kaliwa Dam Network and executive director of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance said: “Our government appears to forget this tragedy with its consistent support of the Kaliwa Dam that will destroy about 300 hectares of our forest areas.”