Groups, LGUs set to file cases vs San Roque management, NPC
By Danny O Sagun
Dagupan City (15 October) -- "Dapat may managot dito."
Abono partylist chairman Rosendo So made this strong statement in reaction to what many believed was poor handling by the San Roque dam management when waters reached the critical level at the height of tropical depression Pepeng which spawned heavy downpour for days in Northern Luzon.
At the Kapihan Forum sa Besco Wednesday, So, president of the Eastern Pangasinan Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that operators of the dam should have begun releasing waters on the 270 meters above sea level and not wait for the level to reach 286 meters, or a few meters below the critical 290 level so as to open the spillway gates.
He said that the dikes along the mighty Agno River can only contain waters at 1,400 cubic meters per second. But San Roque reportedly released up to some 5,000 cms causing dikes along the river to burst. Flashfloods ensued with waters reaching eight to 10 feet in some areas.
The San Roque dam is supposed to contain waters from upstream Ambuklao and Binga dams and thus prevent flooding in the central plain of Pangasinan aside from its power generation function. Apparently, it could not contain all waters from upstream as shown by the massive flooding last weekend affecting 38 towns including the cities of Dagupan, San Carlos and Urdaneta.
So said he favored the filing of legal suits against the operator of the dam as well as the National Power Corporation which reportedly was responsible in deciding whether to release waters or not. "Nagtuturuan na nga sila ngayon kung sinong dapat na mag-utos sa pagbawas ng tubig," he noted.
The provincial government, Abono, farmers' groups, local government units and other individuals are said to be filing their respective complaints. "Maganda kung maraming magreklamo para at least makikinig sila ngayon, hindi yong puro sila lang ang nag-uusap," he said.
Asked if he favors decommissioning of the dams, he said he wanted a system that will prevent massive water releases in the future. "Nandyan na rin yan, saying kung di gamitin. Pero dapat yong sistema palitan o kaya yong management."
On the argument that floods would have been more severe if not of the San Roque dam, he said that for long years there had been no massive flooding as this one when there were no dams yet. "Mula nong pinanganak ako, wala namang grabeng baha na ganyan, wala pa naman yang mga dam noon," he argued.
Despite the huge damages in agriculture, he said he did not foresee any rice shortage in the near future. "Marami pa namang lugar ang di naapektuhan. Dapat bilhin ng NFA yong local produce natin," he said. So has long opposed rice importation.
He also asked the National Food Authority to buy the water-damaged palay in order to help alleviate the plight of affected farmers.
Government should also extend full support by giving subsidized farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers, he also said.
President Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday personally led distribution of farm rehabilitation assistance inputs like palay and vegetable seeds. She also distributed relief goods to evacuees at the Dagupan Astrodome.
She earlier presided over the joint meeting of the Cabinet and the National Disaster Coordinating Council at the Dagupan West Central School. Last Saturday, she visited the provincial disaster coordinating council and later inspected damages in flood-ravaged towns. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]