By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has urged the House of Representatives to look into government geologists’ claim of an earthquake fault that could affect the controversy-ridden Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon.
Auditors sent to the congressional hearing conducted by the House Committee on Metro Manila Development on Wednesday also called on state agencies involved in the project to observe caution in implementing the project.
During the hearing, the COA auditors who requested anonymity said the Environmental Clearance Certificate issued to the project that there were 17 conditions set for compliance before the construction should be started.
“On behalf of COA, we cannot yet give our opinion but we have noted several items in the ECC. The ECC has 17 conditions and seven general conditions,” the audit representative told the House panel chaired by Manila Rep. Manuel Lopez.
“We are also asking the opinion of Undersecretary Solidum regarding the earthquake faults and the resiliency plan as regards the construction of Kaliwa dam,” she said, referring to Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
Solidum has reportedly disclosed the existence of an earthquake fault in General Nakar, the Quezon town where the Kaliwa dam will be constructed.
The ECC for the P18.7 billion Kaliwa dam project was issued by DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau last month.
Known as the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the water supply project is expected to address the impending shortage crisis by contributing fresh supply of water amounting to 600 million liters daily to Metro Manila and adjacent localities.
Lopez said caution in approving the project must indeed be observed by government but he stressed the need to immediately address the urgent concern over the predicted water crisis.
Earlier, Lopez chided the two Metro Manila water concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for their P6 billion average annual earnings since 2016, noting that there are much more to be desired from their operations of delivering ample potable water to their customers.
` He warned the Manila Water Company and the Maynilad Water Services Inc. that their concession contracts may no longer be extended unless they step up in providing adequate water supply to Metro Manila and adjoining localities.
Manila Rep. Manuel Lopez aired this threat which will be carried out by passing a bill that would open these service areas to legislative franchise.
“Unfortunately, they have not lived up their commitment since they took over the water supply service in 1997,” said Lopez, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna lawmakers said an investigation into the grant of ECC for the project has become imperative in the light of reports that there have been lack of consultations with indigenous people who will be displaced as a result of their project.
“Did the DENR conduct consultation with the Dumagats and other local communities to be affected by the Kaliwa Dam project? If they did, where are the results?” asked Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat.
Another Bayan Muna legislator, Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, said in a separate statement: ”We filed House Resolution No. 10 and are calling on the House leadership to immediately schedule a hearing to investigate Manila Water (Co., Inc.) and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.). We hope that this round of water interruptions is not another ploy to push for the start of the construction of the Kaliwa dam that is full of anomalies and is onerously pro-China.”