Pangasinan gov asks gradual release of dam waters
By Danny O Sagun
Dagupan City (30 October) -- Interior and Local Governments Secretary Ronaldo Puno yesterday heard it right from Pangasinan Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr.: The sudden release of excess waters from the San Roque dam caused massive flashfloods in eastern Pangasinan destroying river dikes, roads and other infrastructures.
Espino cleared the matter with the DILG secretary in view of claims by the National Power Corporation and the San Roque Power Corporation that the dam's water releases had nothing to do with the massive flooding of some 38 towns and cities in Pangasinan.
In last Monday's regular session of the sangguniang panlalawigan, NPC and SRPC officials chorused that heavy rainfall spawned by the typhoon caused the massive flooding. They also claimed that without the dam, flooding would have been more severe.
Puno visited the province yesterday along with top officials of the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection to assess the preparations being done by the province for the coming typhoon Santi which was said to be headed towards central Luzon.
He asked the PNP and the BFP to work closely with the provincial disaster coordinating council and the local government units in identifying high grounds in a cluster of three or four towns. Such elevated areas will be used as staging area for rescue and relief operations. "Dapat yong mataas na lugar ang paglagyan ng staging area kung saan ipre-position na yong mga kailangan like equipment for rescue," he stressed. "Useless na maglagay kayo ng mga resources or equipment na hindi ninyo naman madeploy kasi binaha naman yong lugar," he noted, citing experiences in Metro Manila which suffered from heavy flooding caused by typhoon Ondoy.
"Pangasinan is prepared already in terms of relief operations, you have already set evacuation plans. But what we plan to do is put up advanced rescue centers in order to save lives," he said.
He disclosed that DILG has acquired enough rubber boats for distribution to flood prone areas like Pangasinan. The BFP will provide 10 units while two units will come from the PNP, he said.
For his part, Espino asked concerned agencies like the regional disaster coordinating council to help monitor water releases from San Roque. "Normal na mag-release sila pero ang importante dyan yong mode ng pag-release nila, dapat gradual hindi biglaan," he said addressing his concern to PNP Region 1 Director Ramon Gatan, who joined the briefing at the PDCC quarters at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen. Gatan heads the RDCC.
He said that the province has seen floods thru the years including the worst in 1972. "Pero hindi nasisira ng ganon na lang ang mga dike at daan tulad ng nangyari sa eastern Pangasinan," he noted, attributing it to the sudden release of excess waters at the height of the typhoon. He also pointed out that indeed towns farther from the San Roque dam like Bugallon and Lingayen were heavily flooded but there were no damaged dikes and roads.
Puno in a brief interview with newsmen after meeting privately with the governor said the issue has already been tackled between and among the concerned agencies and parties. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]