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PIA Press Release

Pangasinan to run after people responsible for dam water releases; NPC denies role in massive flooding

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (28 October) -- The provincial government may not be laying the blame on the San Roque dam itself or the National Power Corporation for the recent massive flooding in Pangasinan but it is looking for the person or persons responsible for the untimely release of the dam's excess waters at the onslaught of Typhoon Pepeng.

Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. made this clear Monday even as he lashed out at people "including a former governor" for trying to defend the San Roque Dam or the agencies operating the facility.

"We do not blame the San Roque dam. Pero hahanapin natin yong tao at hindi tayo hihinto until the culprit is found," he told the weekly Talakayan sa Kapitolyo media forum. He added: "We are not finger-pointing here, I will not do that in my life,"

But at the same time he stressed accountability for those responsible for the loss of 62 lives and properties amounting to some P9 billion excluding personal and business losses.

He did not identify anyone but he apparently referred to NPC engineer Alexander Palada, who was then head of the Flood Forecasting and Warning System for Dam Operations division which was the authorized agency as to releases of excess waters from the dam. Palada was relieved upon his request reportedly due to stress.

Meanwhile, NPC officials who graced the regular session of the sangguniang panlalawigan last Monday assumed no responsibility as they maintained that the dam had nothing to do with the devastation caused by the floods. Pangasinenses in general are holding the San Roque dam as the culprit of the worst flooding in years.

"The timing for the opening of the spilling gates was just right," the officials replied when told that the water releases aggravated the situation in the lowlands. San Roque dam opened its spilling gates when the water level reached the critical 289 meter above sea level mark and during which Typhoon Pepeng was relentlessly dumping heavy rains.

As expected, such claim elicited jeers from the people who watched the proceedings. They believed that the dam waters caused massive flooding not only in towns along the Agno River but also in other areas like Urdaneta City, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao and Dagupan City.

Instead of mitigating floods, the dam turned out to be the culprit, resulting in the loss of lives and properties, Espino himself noted during the Talakayan.

The dam operators likewise belied claims that a dam break may result in floods up to 10-storeys high. Engineer Raymond Mariano of SRPC said that floods in a worst-case scenario may only be three meters high, a claim that again raised the eyebrows of the board members and those at the gallery.

Mariano said that contrary to fears, the dam break would not be as sudden as feared so that waters would spread and not be confined in a certain area. A dam break is very remote and may happen if there is a very strong earthquake simultaneously with a terrorist attack during the time the dam is full, he pointed out. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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