Quezon Reps, local officials unite to save Sierra Madre

by Raadee Sausa November 23, 2020 Rep. Mark Enverga of the 1st district, Rep. Hele...

by Raadee Sausa
November 23, 2020

Quezon Reps, local officials opposes to save Sierra Madre
Rep. Mark Enverga of the 1st district, Rep. Helen Tan of the 4th district, Board Member Gerry Talaga and Vice Mayor L. A. Ruanto talk with members of Save Sierra Madre Network. (Photo from Save Sierra Madre Network)



LUCENA CITY - Local officials of Quezon province and different pro-environment groups stand firm to protect Sierra Madre from construction of Kaliwa dam.

The group stands to protect the the mountain led by Rep. Mark Enverga of the 1st district, Rep. Helen Tan of the 4th district, Board Member Gerry Talaga and Vice Mayor L. A. Ruanto talk with members of Save Sierra Madre Network.



They united to oppose the said facility to conserve the environment and peoples' existence.

Earlier, a House leader has stressed the need to establish a government body to protect the 500-kilometer mountain range which has been the country’s safety net against strong typhoons for centuries.



"The increased frequency and severity of flooding in areas close to the Marikina River, as well as in towns in the Cagayan Valley, are attributed to the loss of Sierra Madre’s forest cover. We can no longer ignore this,” Assistant Majority Leader Fidel Nograles of Rizal said.

These shocking reports of typhoon-triggered floods in residential areas “emphasize the importance of taking concrete steps to care for the Sierra Madre mountain region,” he said.



House Bill (HB) 5634, filed by the Harvard-trained lawyer last year, proposes the creation of a Sierra Madre Development Authority (SMDA).

Besides protecting the mountain range, the SMDA will also be tasked to adopt a “wholistic approach to enhance development of indigenous resources of the Sierra Madre region to its fullest potential for economic development in order to raise the standard of living of those residing in the area."

“There is clearly a need to provide this vital mountain range with further safeguards and protection while finding ways to responsibly develop part of the range not under its protected areas,” Nograles said.

He also said the wide area covered by the Sierra Madre mountain range and the importance of the region “requires coordination that cuts across various LGU [local government units] jurisdictions and numerous departmental concerns.”

“The SMDA will ensure coordination and cooperation among all these, resulting in a coherent and comprehensive strategy that will protect the Sierra Madre’s forest cover while allowing for sustainable development,” Nograles added.

Included in the functions of the proposed SMDA is the conduct of a comprehensive survey of the physical and natural resources of the Sierra Madre region and subsequent drafting of a conservation plan as well as the approval of all plans, programs and projects proposed by local government offices and agencies within the region related to the development of the mountain range.

Protect the mountain

Calls to protect the Sierra Madre mountain range and suspend the construction of the Kaliwa dam project were launched online after Typhoon Ulysses ravaged several parts of Luzon.

The Sierra Madre, considered as the barrier or backbone of Luzon, is the longest mountain range in the Philippines that covers the northeast coast of Luzon.

It is also where 20 of the country's protected areas and forests are located, including the La Mesa Watershed and the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscapes.

Kaliwa dam project is a P12.2 billion China-funded project which is among the government’s priority projects as a long-term solution to Metro Manila’s water woes.

It is planned to be a medium-term water source for Metro Manila that will supplement Angat dam in Bulacan.

On November 19, environmental conservation group Random Act of Kindness (RAK) shared photos of the typhoon damage at the Tinipak River-Mt. Daraitan jump-off point in Rizal.

The landscape, especially the path, was nearly ruined with boulders of rocks everywhere.

“This is not the Tinipak River-Mt. Daraitan jump-off point that we know of,” the caption read.

The advocates then noted the importance of protecting Sierra Madre amid the worsening climate crisis, citing the consequences of the Kaliwa dam project.

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