Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc.

News Article on Kaliwa and Laiban Dams (2): Sierra Madre dam foes assail gov’t indifference

Sierra Madre dam foes assail gov’t indifference
By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon, 7:30am, Sunday, November 9, 2014
LUCENA CITY—If the number of unanswered letters sent to national and local government officials showing disinterest were to be the gauge, the Sierra Madre mountain range is doomed. Elizabeth Carranza, head of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNAI), said that since August, her group has sent more than 50 letters pleading for support in the group’s fight to stop the controversial dam projects in Kaliwa and Laiban on the Sierra Madre but has received only 10 replies. She said the letters were addressed to President Aquino, House and Senate leaders, local officials of Rizal, Laguna and Quezon provinces and different government agencies. Carranza, in a phone interview on Saturday, said her group was very disappointed with Mr. Aquino as he did not even have the courtesy to reply to the group’s letter. “It also showed that saving the Sierra Madre is not the priority of his administration,” she said. On Sept. 26, 2012, the President issued Proclamation No. 413 declaring the date as Save Sierra Madre Day. The longest mountain range in the country continues to face threats from illegal logging, irresponsible mining and even government projects. “The President’s declaration was an empty gesture,” Carranza said. SSMNAI also expressed disappointment that no local government unit surrounding the Sierra Madre commemorated Save Sierra Madre Day for lack of instruction from the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Carranza said the unanswered letters only showed that environmentalist groups, indigenous peoples and the Church were all alone in their struggle to save the Sierra Madre. “This only strengthened our unwavering position to oppose the dam projects,” she said. Of the few that had responded to their calls, Carranza cited the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Rizal and Laguna who asked Carranza’s group to speak before the councils to explain their position against the dam projects. Quezon Board Member Ferdinand Talabong told the Inquirer that the board also planned to invite SSMNAI to hear its side. The President, in his State of the Nation Address in July, said the dam projects on the Sierra Madre were among several public-private partnership programs he had approved for immediate implementation. The New Centennial Water Source project would tap water through two proposed dams—Kaliwa and Laiban— that are in Tanay town, Rizal, and General Nakar town, Quezon, to supply Metro Manila with potable water. Carranza said the dams would threaten the remaining prime forests on Sierra Madre and its biodiversity and deprive future generations of a healthy and balanced ecology. “We don’t need new dams. They are not the ones supplying water to us. We need to restore the true source of clean water and clean air. We need to restore our forests,” she said. Groups opposing the dams also cited the risk posed by the projects, as their proposed site lies between the Marikina and Real-Infanta fault lines.

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