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PIA Press Release

San Roque dam must stay, says Dagupan official

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (22 October) -- "We do not blame San Roque. San Roque is part of the solution."

Thus stressed Dagupan City Administrator Alvin Fernandez during the KBP Forum this morning in reaction to the call of many other local executives for the decommissioning of the San Roque multi-purpose dam which they believed caused the massive flooding in Pangasinan. Fernandez said it was the system in the release of excess waters that ought to be modified or changed.

He said that the dam, being a source of renewable energy should be maintained. "It is one of the best projects so far," he noted.

But it was the management system of the dam that should be blamed, he said as he lamented the absence of good communication and information system on the part of the operator of the dam and government agencies which exercise supervision over it. "Imagine, humihingi kami ng information o advisory, eh sabi kumuha na lang daw kami sa PDCC (provincial disaster coordinating council). Hindi ba kami puedeng dumiretso sa kanila?" he said. "Nobody seemed to be in-charge. Give us updates, magtext kayo o tumawag sa amin," he added.

"Wala nang sisihan dito. Past is past. But we have learned lessons na puede nating i-apply sa parating pang mga kalamidad," he said noting the effects of global warming like changed weather patterns. "Puro super bagyo na lang ang dumadaan ngayon," he observed.

His position was different from that of majority of local chief executives who last Monday, in a meeting at the PDCC led by Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr., demanded the shutdown of the power generation component of the dam for fear that Pangasinan might be wiped out in case of a dam break. They wanted the facility to be used only for irrigation purposes.

Sta. Barbara Mayor Reynaldo Velasco, whose town also suffered heavily from the floods caused by typhoon Pepeng, also deviated from the position of his colleagues as he yesterday called on his fellow mayors to go slow in asking for the decommissioning of the facility, pointing out that there are many factors to be considered like repayment for loans used in putting up the dam.

PDCC spokesperson Avenix Arenas, who joined Fernandez in the weekly media forum, disclosed that the provincial government was still studying the move to press for the shutdown of the facility. But the province, she said, would definitely sue those responsible for damages. Damages in agriculture and infrastructure in Pangasinan reached more than P7 billion. There were 62 reported fatalities.

With lessons learned from the massive flooding brought by Pepeng, the city administrator said that Mayor Alipio Fernandez, Jr. asked all barangay chairmen last Tuesday to pre-position all their needs, assets and resources before the onslaught of incoming Typhoon Ramil. Such resources include ropes, water containers, food and materials to be used as floaters.

He said the barangay officials were also urged to identify possible host families for those who need to be evacuated to safer areas. "Walang masama sa over-preparedness."

Arenas said the three command posts in eastern, central and western Pangasinan which operated during the onslaught of Pepeng continue to be in full alert. Some 26 evacuation centers, she said, have already been identified in eastern Pangasinan. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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