‘Even the unsinkable Titanic sank’

Posted: September 22, 2014 in Peasants

ILOILO City – The Jalaur River for the People Movement (JRPM) lambasted the Jalaur mega dam proponents’ statement that “only terror attacks can destroy” it.

“When the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) declared dam can only be destroyed by a terrorist attack similar to 9/11, I almost fell on the floor. The arrogance of the statement and the sheer lunacy of the proponents are unimaginable,” said the group’s spokesperson, Mary Grace Lobaton.

The 9/11 refers to terrorist attacks launched by the terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Four passenger airliners were hijacked so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes were crashed into the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Both towers collapsed.

NIA boasted that only a terrorist attack in a scale similar to the one that destroyed the World Trade Center can make the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project – Phase II (JRMP-II) collapse.

“Have they not read and learned from history? The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg! The builders then were so enthusiastic that they have built the only unsinkable ship in the whole world and in its maiden voyage, they were proven otherwise,” said Lobaton.

“RMS Titanic” was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage carrying 2,224 passengers and crew from Southampton, United Kingdom to New York City, USA.

The sinking killed over 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

“Another disaster was the Vaiont (Vajont) Dam in Italy, one of the tallest in the world. It created massive landslides that produced waves overtopping the reservoir by more than 100 meters. It caused a flashflood in the downstream town of Longarone, drowning 2,000 inhabitants within a handful of minutes,” said Lobaton.

At 261.6 meters in height, the thin concrete arch Vajont Dam, on the Vajont River in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia a few dozen meters above its border with Veneto, was the tallest dam in the world at the time of its completion in 1959.

Despite opposition from the local residents and findings of separate studies of the dam’s reservoir being unstable and liable to collapse should the reservoir be filled, the contractor still proceeded.

“We don’t want these disasters to happen to our indigenous peoples and the entire Ilonggos. Previous studies have already showed that the area where the dam is to be built has questionable integrity. But NIA is so omniscient, denied all allegations and proceeded without caution,” said Lobaton.

In September 2012, three scientists – a geologist, a botanist and a physicist – from the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People found faults along the Jalaur River at the site of the dam main reservoir.

“There were mass wastings, rockfalls and soil erosions – as indicated by the presence of talus and daylighting joints, rock falls and landslides – and faults in the area showing unstable foundation and questionable integrity of the dam sites,” said Adong Fernandez, a registered geologist and a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

JRPM, an advocacy alliance for the protection and promotion of the Jalaur River as a life source of the people, is composed of the indigenous group TUMANDUK, farmers groups, church leaders and different religious denominations, students and professionals, militant organizations and other civil society organizations in Panay./PN

Published in Panay News, September 23, 2014

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