11 September 2011 – San Fabian, Pangasinan.
The concerned citizens of the municipality of San Fabian, Pangasinan respectfully request your most precious attention and consideration in the midst of a pressing issue and concern we are facing.
QUARRYING has been going on for so long in the “Bued” River System both upstream and downstream of the San Fabian River Irrigation System (SFRIS). What concerns us most is the massive and unregulated quarry operation in the downstream areas opposite barangays Anonang in the municipality of San Fabian and in Barangay Macayug in the municipality of San Jacinto. Massive because all sorts of river materials are extracted from the river system.
As a matter of policy, the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences (MGB) had set that only a meter depth of river materials be extracted every year in the river system. This was not observed though by the permittees in the absence of sound monitoring system that should be done by both the LGUs concerned and the agency mandated to do it.
The river flow then is more or less moderate owing to the gradual slope from the point below the SFRIS Dam to the lower stream areas earlier mentioned. To date however, the slope changed significantly in that the moderate river flow has turned into rapids.
The tremendous water current from floodwaters carries with it downwards all kind of river materials and scouring everything along its path. The river system that used to be very shallow parts below the dam many prior the year 2000 from 3 – 4 meters in depth has now become 7 – 9 meters deep. While there is 1 kilometer buffer zone up and downstream of the SFRIS Dam, the strong water current during typhoons scouring the river downwards will eventually put the stability of the dam structure in danger and scouring the riverbanks in its wake.
Very grave results followed, to wit;
1. Scouring of about 50 hectares and 26 houses:
Over several decades more or less 50 hectares of agricultural and residential lots were scoured. During typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009, an estimated 5 hectares of palay and 21 houses were scoured. Floodwaters of Typhoon “Mina”( August 2011) five houses and about 1 and a half hectare of palay are scoured, and 4 houses are dangerously hanging on in the gorge-like riverbank.
2. Five hundred (500 m) of irrigation canal destroyed/scoured:
About 500 meters of concrete lined main irrigation canal of the National Irrigation Administration (lateral AF) was scoured in 2009, the waters of typhoon “Mina”(2011) destroyed the improvised irrigation canal serving as replacement of the concrete lined irrigation canal destroyed by typhoon “Pepeng. This is where irrigation water flows for irrigating portions of Barangay Binday and Aramal and whole of Barangays Anonang, Angio and Cabaruan. The aggregate total of agricultural areas irrigated by the said canal in the mentioned areas is about 1,000 hectares.
3. Significant destruction of the soil profile in the riverbed:
The undisturbed soil profile serves to prevent water loss through percolation. Farms with intact soil profile requires much lesser irrigation water. The quarrying which had destroyed the soil profile resulted to porous subsoil which require much more than normal amount of water. Water loss through percolation is so much under this condition. The clamor of farmers Anonang near the boundary with Macayug is that they are spending so much on irrigation on their shallow tubewell irrigation (STW/water pumps) and the cost is unbearable. According to them, underground water last until lean months of every year or during the months of February to March. With the soil profile in the Bued Riverbed already altered, underground water can hardly last until December. The water table had been so deep making it difficult for pumping water for irrigation.
All of these tragic incidents happening one after another is a traumatic experience to all those affected, homes lost and farm and residential lots wiped-out as well. Farmers experiencing too much difficulty in pumping underground water.
What more shall poor farmers, residents, and other sectors experience in the future without giving them social justice they entitled of.
On the basis of all of these, the undersigned stakeholders appeal for your consideration that quarrying be temporarily stopped immediately in the “Bued” River System on the downstream of the SFRIS Dam to avoid further destruction in the vicinity of the location.
Looking forward to your favorable action.
(The Manifesto will be sent to the Office of the Municipal Mayor, Sangguniang Bayan of San Fabian, Office of the Governor of Pangasinan, the Office of the Secretary of DENR, the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines)