Why Accept The Risk?
By Pol Derilo
In its regular session last Monday, September 10, the Municipal Council of Infanta unanimously passed a resolution opposing the construction of Laiban and Kanan B-1 dams in Gen. Nakar. A project of the national government and Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System, Laiban Dam is designed to divert water of Kaliwa River to supplement the needs of Metro Manila. The Kanan B-1 dam is intended to harness the resources of Kanan River for generating a hydroelectric plant. Both rivers are major tributaries of Agos River that runs along the towns of Gen. Nakar and Infanta.
One of the highlights of Task Force Sierra Madre’s signature drive in opposing the construction of these two dam projects is the argument that their sites pose a great possible risk of deluge in RIN most particularly the municipality of Infanta.
This is possible considering the size of Laiban dam and the volume of water stored in it once it becomes operational. Towering over the eastern side of Sierra Madre mountains and facing the plains of RIN, Laiban dam will be 113 meters high, 500 meters wide and with a resevoir that covers 7 barangays in Tanay, Rizal and barangay Lumutan in Gen. Nakar totalling 5 kilomters long. On a smaller scale, Kanan B-1 also faces Gen. Nakar & Infanta but with a diagonal tunnel towards the northern area of Pagsangahan called by another name Mahabang Lalim. Supposedly, that is where the turbine generates electricity.
The risk arise from the fact that both Laiban and Kanan B-1 structures lies approximately 20 & 10 kilometers away respectively from the Infanta fault lines. Running northward from the eastern shores of Capalong, the fault runs northward across several barangays of the three towns up to the seaside corner boundary of San Marcelino and Sablang, Gen. Nakar. With an intensity VII earthquake, any breakage to any of the dam structures will aggravate the earthquake along the fault lines that is perceived to be the submersion of the whole town of Infanta.
According to three Chinese scientists sent by the UN to Infanta in 1996 as well as data secured from Phivolcs, these cracks are active and might have direct link to the intensity VIII earthquake in 1880. With Its epicenter between barangays Sablang and Tamala both located on eastern seaboard of Gen. Nakar, the whole RIN area suffered an unprecedented destruction to as far as Mauban in the south and to as far as Intramuros, Manila in the west. The bell towers of San Agustin church and the Manila Cathedral both broke during that earthquake. The first church in Infanta and Mauban were devastated with the recorded magnitude of IX scale.
In the signature campaign, every available information are given to enlighten everyone in making their choices. Given the risks of losing human lives, destruction of properties and the continuos disintegration of the environment, every resident should weight these consequences with the so called “progress” and/or even with the highest proof of structural integrity of the projects. Prudence is crucially important in preserving the present and future generations. Man-made risks should never be equated with attainable assurance of self preservation by not constructing any dam close to any fault line. Why gamble human lives in the name of progress when the safety standards are highly vulnerable to compromise, oversight and corruption.
Task Force Sierra Madre is still steps behind in their goal of stopping these projects. Targeted numbers are still deficient but possibly attainable with Real and Gen. Nakar campaign also progressing. With the great number of RIN’s population, TFSM is confident that the President will not ignore humane consideration in this segment of the country. The petition includes age brackets who can acknowledge and understand the value of human lives, thus, from elementary school children to adults. Grade school children were all made aware of the importance of their signature in the petition. Some of them even made vows to contribute a portion of their “baon” just to show commitment to this effort.
With our stride coming along steady and assured, we will come up with the document full of hope, appeal and humility from the living people of RIN. It will embody their assertions that they are freely and responsibly answering the call of their Creator, i.e., loving their God and loving His creations.