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Roman Catholic Prelate of Infanta 48-A Plaridel St., Poblacion 38 Infanta, Quezon 4336 Philippines
STATEMENT ON THE KALIWA DAM
While we welcome the agreement of the governments of the world “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, “(COP21 Agreement # 1.a.b), there are no urgent binding commitments to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Hence the Philippines for instance is still very much vulnerable to experience again disasters like typhoon Yolanda or even worse. This is a most serious and urgent challenge for all of us to do what we can here in our country to effect reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and trust that God in his great mercy will inspire other countries to follow suit.
We are then calling on the Philippine government, in particular, to immediately implement what it has promised in Paris to “ continue enhancing mitigation efforts and move overtime towards economy-wide reduction” (Ibid. Agreement # 4) “ reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” (Ibid. # 5) among others.
It is along this vein we ask that the government to stop the bidding and construction of the Kaliwa Dam until the following issues have been satisfactorily addressed to:
1. Climate change and the Dam: Kaliwa Dam will submerge 3,000 hectares of forests which are s major sink of carbon dioxide. More than that, recent scientific studies have already debunked the fact that dams are renewable energy because they produce methane gas which cause global warming much worse than carbon.
2. Biodiversity: COP21 upholds the protection of biodiversity. No less than Pope Francis himself has spoken that “ The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses…(Laudato Si #32) “ “Highways, new plantations, the fencing-off of certain areas, the damming of water sources, and similar developments, crowd out natural habitats and, at times, break them up in such a way that animal populations can no longer migrate or roam freely. As a result, some species face extinction. (Ibid. 35) The Philippines is one of the 17 countries considered as megadiverse and Sierra Madre mountains is the home of many endemic species.
3. The Indigenous people: While COP21 defends the rights of indigenous peoples yet despite the fact that the Dumagats have not given their Free Prior and Inform Consent as required by law, Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System simply proceeded with their bidding of the Kaliwa dam. The life and culture of the indigenous people do not seem to factor in the project.
4. Active Faults: Having experienced flash flood in 2004 tens of thousands lowlanders who live downstream in Real, Infanta and General Nakar in the province of Quezon are deathly scared of the dam especially since PHILVOCS has reported faults in the vicinity and this is the reason why the dam has adopted a probabilistic seismic hazard design. Furthermore there is a need for deeper study as to whether the hot springs in the Kaliwa River itself originate from a volcano underneath.
5. The cost of building this New Centennial Water Project which includes the construction of the Kaliwa, Laiban, Kanan-B1 dams amount to a staggering P66 billion. This would mean more taxes from the people. There are alternatives. Dr. Esteban Godilano, a prominent geologist, propose the Pasig-Laguna River Basin which just flood Metro Manila. Treating that water like the Singapore New Water will only need P14 billion. Moreover the heavily desilted Angat Dam should be dredged. As for energy needs we invest on solar and wind energy, among others.
6. The Kaliwa project includes the digging of a 28 kilometer tunnel which is 4 meters in-diameter to be dug 200 meters deep from Kaliwa to Antipolo. Sierra Madre has plenty of gold panners hence speculations are raw as to whether or not such a project is simply a front for mining.
Let us not jeopardize the future of the next generation with the New Centennial Water Supply Project. Stop the bidding and construction of the Kaliwa Dam. COP21 reminds us of intergenerational equity. May this new challenge make us strong to defend Mother Earth. We request that moves to address these issues be conveyed in regular stakeholders’ meetings to include concerned communities and their leaders, the indigenous people, the Church and other concerned citizens.
With Pope Francis we pray: God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen. (Laudato Si #246).
+ BERNARDINO C. CORTEZ, D.D.
Bishop-Prelate of Infanta
Prelature of Infanta
25 December 2015