BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Sen. Franklin Drilon is concerned for Iloilo but we are befuddled by his knee-jerk reaction to progressive groups who don’t sing hallellujah to his lobby to build a mega dam in Jalaur River, Calinog, Iloilo.
Rep. Nery Colmentares (Bayan Muna Partylist) is calling for a congresional inquiry on the safety of the P12-billion complex that will produce electricity and drinking and irrigation water. The partylist solon echoes fears of progressive groups that the dam sits on an earthquake belt.
A local paper headlined Drilon’s assurance that the dam was “earthquake proof”, either the structure could withstand the most intense tremblor, at 10 magnitude or, as it quotes him, the fear was “baseless”, the fault line imaginary.
A knowledgeable person in disaster-risk management, Jerry Bionat, confirms Bayan Muna’s view. Calinog sits on the “W. Panay Fault” which starts from the southern tip of Panay at San Joaquin town and stretching all the way up north through Miag-ao, Igbaras, Tubungan, Alimodian, Leon, Maasin, Januiay, Lambunao, Calinog and Bingawan all in Iloilo, and through Nabas, Aklan.
“Those are town which have the most number of landslides due to the fault line,” says Bionat, also chief of the Iloilo Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO-Iloilo). “Several communities already evacuated from risk zones like the Seven Cities due to collapse of slopes.”
The “Seven Cities” is a cluster of seven vegetable growing barangays in Alimodian town. The municipality has condemned the village elementary school in Brgy. Umingan and relocated it as slides chipped off the old campus.
Another partylist representative, Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna), cautions Drilon from endangering Ilonggo lives and wasting taxpayers’ money reminding him that dam sits on top of a fault line. He quotes the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhilVocs) and the Mines and Geo-science Bureau (MGB).
“It is a study of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) itself that says that the Jalaur dam’s Direct Impact Area (DIA) is on an active fault line called the West Panay Fault particularly located in the West Panay Mountain Ranges which starts from San Remigio in Antique towards San Joaquin, Iloilo in the South and Calinog in Iloilo towards Ibajay in Aklan. If Sen. Drilon does not believe that then so be it but he should not endanger the lives of Ilonggos and billions of taxpayers’ money,” says Casiño.
“Aside from the PHIVOLCS, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 6 geohazard mapping result which is posted in their website declare the project areas in Calinog and Lambunao as “high susceptibility to landslide. Is Sen. Drilon blind to these facts,” he adds.
We join Drilon in, praise him even for, finding ways to ensure future water and power sources. But our conscience forbids to allow him to expose Ilonggo lives to risk and waste billions of taxpayers’ money. The good senator acts more like a sales man advertising his wares. Under this situation: buyer, beware. Caveat emptor.
Drilon’s sales talk that the dam is “earthquake proof” is as incredible as his earlier flier that the Iloilo Hall of Justice has firm foundation. The earthquake of February 6 at 5.7 magnitude shows that.
Drilon had the hall of justice built in 1991 from a P105-million budget, a hefty sum then. Twenty years later, DPWH engineers declared it a public danger; the Supreme Court which later took charge of its administration ordered its evacuagtion. It is the only building abandoned; older edifices in Iloilo and those built on lesser budgets withstood the quake.
Human-made structures touted indestructible had bowed down from the might of earthquakes. The engineering marvels of the world’s super power were no match to them. Writes “The Post-Standard” (Syracuse New York October 18, 1989):
San Francisco (AP) — A catastrophic earthquake rocked Northern California Tuesday, killing at least 200 people and injuring 400, caving in a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, igniting fires and causing widespread damage to buildings.
At least 200 people were crushed to death in their cars when a mile-long section of the upper level of Interstate 880 in Oakland collapsed onto the lower level, according to MARTY BOYER, public informatiion officer for Alameda County.