The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday defended the construction of Kaliwa Dam amid online petitions to cancel the project due to possible deforestation of Sierra Madre.
DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones assured the public that the Kaliwa Dam project would undergo a thorough study upon implementation.
“Yung Kaliwa Dam, kung ang ikinatatakot nila ay magkakaroon ng massive deforestation, palagay ko hindi naman papayag ang ating departamento kung masisira ang ating kagubatan diyan,” Leones said.
“Sa aming pananaw, ito ay dumadaan sa masusing pagre-review. Sa mga dapat nila i-comply, hangga’t maari, wala po talagang masisirang mga puno at dapat maigi ang konsultasyon na ginagawa,” he added.
Petitions to cancel the Kaliwa Dam project surfaced amid the widespread flooding in Cagayan Valley and Isabela.
Some officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte and Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, blamed illegal logging and mining for the “worst” flooding in the province in 40 years.
According to Leones, DENR is taking care of Sierra Madre through law enforcement, planting programs, and local communities’ assistance.
DENR defends construction of Kaliwa Dam
“Ang Sierra Madre, isa po talagang kino-consider natin na protected area. Ito po ang pinakamahabang mountain range natin. Mula sa Cagayan hanggang sa Quezon po ang haba ng Sierra Madre,” he said.
Leones said 70% of the Sierra Madre mountain range is “vegetated.”
The DENR official also said mining would be allowed in the Sierra Madre as long as the companies comply with environmental laws.
In 2019, Infanta, Quezon residents appealed to the DENR to revoke the environmental compliance certificate issued for the Kaliwa Dam project.
In September this year, Commission on Audit questioned the Notice To Proceed (NTP) for the Kaliwa Dam project over several technicalities, including the alleged consent of indigenous people and tribal communities that would be affected by the project.
COA examined the Resolusyon ng Pagpayag (RP) of the Dumagat/Remontado tribe of General Nakar, Quezon submitted by the MWSS, and found deficiencies in its validity.
The COA then recommended MWSS to require the FPIC Team to create a valid and proper Resolusyon ng Pagpayag compliant to pertinent laws for the Kaliwa Dam project.