A church-based alliance on Satur¬day expressed its strong opposition to the planned construction of three new large dams in the mountains of Sierra Madre because of the danger they pose to communities and forests.
Fr. Pete Montallana of the Diocese of Infanta, Quezon province –one of the lead convenors of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc. –said the project amounting to a staggering P66 billion will submerge 3,000 hectares of forests.
Montallana said the extreme heat, floods and storms that had lashed the country is an admonition that it’s no longer business as usual.
He lamented that the dam projects are being quietly pushed because of the El Niño scare.
But the priest is skeptical of the warning of an impending water crisis, noting that water from the Pasig River and Laguna Lake should be more than enough to cover the needs of Metro Manila.
“We are flooded with water from the Pasig River and Laguna Lake. Why can’t the government build water treatment plants following the example of Singapore? Why not desilt Angat Dam which is already 30 percent (silted),” he said.
Part of the government plan is to build an underground 28-kilometer tunnel from the Kaliwa Dam to Antipolo under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.
Montallana’s group said the government should give priority to the interest of the people before profit. It said the Natural Resource Assessment and Accounting has not come out with a report on the dam project and its expected effect on communities and forests.
Montallana urged the people to stand up and defend the environment and oppose the mega-dam project that would not only damage nature but also displace thousands of people.