By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE P11-BILLION Jalaur River mega dam project in Calinog, Iloilo remains unsafe from earthquakes despite its distance from a major fault line in Panay Island.

In a statement, the Panay-Guimaras Indigenous People’s Network (PGIPNet) said the 11-kilometer distance of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP II) from the West Panay Fault is no assurance that it is earthquake proof.

The group issued the statement in reaction to the assurance issued by Senator Franklin Drilon last Monday that the dam and reservoir of JRMP are earthquake proof citing a fault certification from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs).

Drilon said the Pantabangan dam is less than 10 kilometers from a major fault but it has yet to be destroyed by earthquakes.

PGIPNet said the Philvolcs document is not assurance because it only states the distance of the dam site from the West Panay Fault but it did not certify that the project is safe in case of strong earthquake from the fault.

The group said the West Panay Fault recorded one of the strongest temblors in Philippine history in 1948 at magnitude 8.3. The quake damaged 55 churches in Panay Island, 17 of which collapsed while 20 suffered cracks beyond repair.

The 1948 quake also destroyed 50 percent of houses in Antique were ruined and killed two persons.

“Elders of Tumandok (indigenous people) of Calinog, testified that ‘after the war a very strong earthquake that lasted a week ‘flattened’ rivers and creeks. Furthermore, they said the name ‘Calinog’ means that the place frequently experiences ‘linog’ or earthquake,” the group said in a statement.

A party-list group has initiated a congressional inquiry into the JRMP’s safety.

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