ILOILO City – The anti-dam alliance Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM) criticized the latest statement of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) that excludes Calinog to those towns near the active West Panay fault line.
“The towns near this fault are Lambunao, Janiuay, Maasin, Alimodian, Tubungan, Leon, Igbaras, Miagao and San Joaquin in Iloilo; Ibajay, Malinao, Madalag in Aklan; Pandan in Antique; and Jamindan and Tapaz in Capiz,” Phivolcs said last week.
Its regional director Renato Solidum Jr. said that “Earthquakes can happen any time in Western Visayas. Its residents must prepare.”
He also declared that the West Panay fault line is active.
“It lacked a very important municipality, Calinog, where the largest mega dam outside Luzon is set to erect. Did it really forget to mention Calinog, or it hides it from us? Truth be told, Calinog is a boundary municipality and lies between the towns of Lambunao (Iloilo) and Tapaz (Capiz),” said the JRPM in a statement.
The group produced an image of overlapping maps showing the fault, the municipality of Calinog and the dam.
“Here, we have compiled two (2) different maps, the Earthquake-induced landslide hazard map of the Province of Iloilo (see Fig.1), and the Distribution of Active Faults and Trenches in the Philippines map (see Fig.2).”
“From Figure 3, not does it (overlapping of maps) only confirms the towns near the fault line, but also shows that the West Panay fault line traverses these municipalities, and so it does with Calinog.”
“Also, it validates that the Jalaur mega dam indeed sits 11 kilometers away from the fault,” the group added.
The Phivolcs issued a certification in 2012, that the Jalaur mega dam, the largest outside Luzon, is 11 kilometers away from the known active fault line.
“[But] National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the project’s main proponent, declared [this fault] as “inactive and no vestiges in movements” in the Main Report of the Feasibility Study submitted to funder Korean Export-Import Bank in November 2011,” the group claimed.
Earthquake and landslide prone
“In Figure 1, the dam area therefore is high-to-low susceptible to earthquake-induced landslides,” said JRPM.
A prominent geologist and the only geomorphologist in the country Dr. Ricarte S. Javelosa, in his opinions and synthesis report said “[that] the manifestations of these lineaments as geologic structural features and topographic expressions of faulting are evidently in accord with the observations and assessments of MGB-6 and Agham.”
In September 2012, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People or Agham conducting an Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) found faults near the dam site that revealed a questionable integrity of the foundation for the dam in the area.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Rapid Geohazard Assessment also indicates that Barangay Agacalaga, where the main dam will be built is highly susceptible to landslides. This was validated by Agham with indications from gravity-driven rock falls and soil movements along the dam area.
Dr. Javelosa reiterated and strongly suggested that a comprehensive vulnerability assessment be undertaken to identify adaption measures to minimize the adverse impacts in the event of dam failure. But up to now, no such assessment has took place on the part of the NIA.
The NIA even boasted that the dam can withstand the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Dr. Javelosa responded “[it] is irresponsible if not inadmissible.”
No public consultation
A short review of the Jalaur River Project Detailed Design by French scientists S. Hamel and P. Hamel indicated that “communities that benefit from or are impacted by the project are not described appropriately… The report doesn’t show evidence of any community consultation with regards to their water usage. It doesn’t mention the way the risks for affected communities were analyzed and will be mitigated.”
In their summary, the report said “technical analyses appear to be sound but this report seems to be missing important risk management elements, as well as an environmental and social impact assessment and mitigation plan.”
Tragedy in the making
Clearly, the NIA has been fast-tracking the implementation of the project and undermining social protocols such as public consultations in affected areas, especially the million Ilonggos to be affected in case the dam releases water and inundates the downstream areas of the Jalaur river.
Examples of typhoons Frank and Quinta are enough evidences showing even a 40-meter high dam in Moroboro, Dingle, can extend millions worth of damage inundating the province. This mega dam in the high lands of Calinog, standing 106 meters is a tragedy in the making. Even the unsinkable Titanic got knocked down on its maiden voyage, an event its shipbuilders believed impossible./