- Politics and Social Issues
148 kilometers is a walking distance if you are protecting your mountain
148-kilometer walking distance
History if full of long walks
Quezon Province, Philippines is home to the Sierra Madre mountain range. It protects the surrounding provinces from floods and other natural disasters aside from all the other benefits a mountain gives.
In December 2004, the deforestation and other ravages on the mountain showed themselves through the flash flood in the town of Infanta, Nakar and Real. That should have been the ultimate warning to us as a people - never ever again to forget our responsibility to the environment.
But no sooner has the flashflood dried up than the government lifted the ban on logging at the Sierra Madre mountain range.
There is another project that the government wants to carry out : The Laiban Dam.The Laiban Dam Project has always been rejected by the people of Quezon Province. It resurrected recently. The dam is a 50-billion peso project. It is going to be the biggest reservoir at 113 meters high and a strong opposition to it has been going on since the project was revived by the current administration. The protest against the project stems from the following reasons:
a. It violates the constitutional rights of the Indigenous peoples who will be directly hit and will be submerged by this gigantic project; affecting some 4,415 families;
b. It will disrupt biodiversity in the Sierra Madre Mountains since the dam will destroy forest area covering 103 hectares and an area spanning 2,479hectares, irreversibly destroying the natural habitat of 126 fauna species, 5 percent of which (or 67species) are endemic to the Philippines with 12 species endemic to the Luzon faunal region.
c. It will also dislocate endangered species like the Philippine hawk-eagle (Spizaetus Philippensis),the Philippine brown deer (Rusa Marianna),the Philippine Warty pig(Sus Philippensis)and the Luzon bearded wild pig.
d. The project is not environmentally-sound as it is vulnerable to earthquakes because of its being located in an earthquake fault.
e. The Joint Venture Agreement between the project proponents Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its partner, the San Miguel Bulk Waters Inc., is questioanable due to its “take of pay proviso” which means tax payers are paying for the project even before the intended water supply benefits the consumers and which will result in increased water utility rates.
Thus,the Agtas call to scrap the Laiban Dam project. The Agtas walked 148 kilometers to put across the call.
As of this writing, the marchers are still in Manila and have yet to see a concrete commitment from the government about heeding the call to scrap the project.
The Agtas of Quezon Province, with their supporters, are firm in their stand to protect Sierra Madre. This mountain range is not just a heritage of the Philippines. It is, like the Amazon of Brazil and any other mountain in the world, a global heritage.