In the aftermath of Typhoon Quinta (December 25-27, 2012), flotsams like plastics stuck on tree branches and power lines, about six meters high in Banate, Iloilo. They are indicators of the height the floodwater reached.
Quinta drenched Iloilo starting December 25 afternoon until 27th morning, though it still drizzled until evening. On the 26th, the radio reported one person in San Miguel town and another in Pototan drowned, while another was missing.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) opened the gates of the Moroboro Dam, Dingle afternoon of 26th that turned things uglier. Radio updates kept people on their toes. People on the path were alerted of the opening of the floodgate but did not expect its magniture. Floods swept farm lands and roads cutting off Dingle town, Duenas and Passi City from one another. The river in Passi rose to the level of the bridge. The torrents washed out earthen shoulders of concrete roads making them look like embankments.
Moroboro’s flood swept Dingle, Duenas, Passi City, Mina, Pototan, Barotac Nuevo, Zarraga, Anilao, Banate and Barotac Viejo killing 15 and destroying 3,000 homes.
Which leads us to Sen. Franklin Drilon trumpeting the “biggest” government project in Iloilo’s history, the P11.1 billion mega dam called Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II to be erected in Calinog. The Korean Economic Cooperation Fund is plunking P8.9 billion while the Philippines P2.2 billion counterpart. Korea is already assured of P500 million profits, from Filipino taxpayers.
We can’t cheer Drilon whose gift is already unmasked this early as a Trojan Horse, a disaster waiting to happen. The 43-meter dam is capable of storing water 20 times that of Moroboro. Under the same situation as Quinta, the heavens forbid, it will be unleashing the fury of 20 Moroboro dams.
The JRMPP II is 11 kilometers north of the West Panay Fault that starts from San Joaquin, Iloilo’s southernmost town, winds through Lambunao and up to Nabas, Aklan. A watershed area with receding vegetation that is Calinog combined with the earthquake belt 11 kilometers away, gives us a perfect mix for disaster.
Drilon boasts that the mega dam is “earthquake” proof. He should go back in history, to January 25, 1948 when Earthquake Lady Caycay jolted Panay Island with 8.2 magnitude, the West Panay Fault at its epicenter. Caycay damaged 55 Spanish-era churches, 17 of which others beyond repair.
Panay was still recovering from the ravages of WWII and communities could not report immediately on the earthquake. Our parish church in Igbaras, Iloilo survived the war but not Lady Caycay. The church had to be demolished to build a smaller one, about the size that you see today.
Two persons drowned in Iloilo Strait from the tsunami following the quake. The biggest and most beautiful church in Panay, in Oton, Iloilo was so badly damaged it had to be demolished. Its tower partially collapsed leaving only two bells. A boy was found dead under its rubble (Manila Times, January 26, 1948).
In Iloilo City, 21 died and 43 were injured. The Jaro bell tower was destroyed while the Coronet Tower in Villa collapsed. Traffic was disrupted due to fissures in the road (Manila Times, January 26, 1948).
Lady Caycay was the second strongest earthquake in the 500 Philippine history, courtesy of the West Panay Fault, 11 kilometers from the mega dam of PNoy and Drilon.
(Thanks to “No to Jalaur Dam” a FaceBook account, for making available the report from Manila Times, January 26, 1948.)