Quezon gov backs opposition to Kaliwa Dam construction

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    QUEZON Gov. Danilo Suarez has joined residents of several towns in Quezon province opposing the construction of the Kaliwa Dam, a P12-billion joint venture project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and China Energy Engineering Corporation.

    Quezon commemorated the death of at least 1,000 persons from flash floods and mudslides that devastated their areas on Nov. 29, 2004.

    Suarez told residents of Real, Infanta and General Nakar towns (REINA), indigenous peoples groups opposing the project, and members of the Save Sierra Madre network: “I’m with you, I don’t like Kaliwa Dam either. If (they) would continue Kaliwa Dam, I’d see (them) in court.”

    The governor was in Infanta to distribute relief assistance to families who were affected by the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses” that hit the Polillo island group and the REINA area.

    Opposition to the construction of the Kaliwa Dam recently gained momentum after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Quezon, headed by Vice Gov. Samuel Nantes, passed a resolution granting the governor the authority to take steps to stop the Kaliwa Dam project.

    The November 27 resolution was approved by 11 of the 13 members of the provincial board.

    Catholic Church leaders in the province have also renewed their opposition to the mega-dam project, saying the fight was a matter of survival of the people.

    Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Infanta said the project would pose risks to lowland agricultural and fishing communities with a history of flash flooding.

    The prelature covers the northern part of Quezon and Aurora province and lies along the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and on the east of the vast Pacific Ocean. It is also home to thousands of Dumagats, an indigenous community in the highlands of Infanta.