To be sure, Tapang said that even if the administrators gradually released water, it was possible for massive flooding to occur. “But at least, the people will not be caught barefoot. They would have a chance to evacuate, given that they were properly advised,” he said.
“The operators and owner of the dams should be held accountable,” Tapang said. “They have allowed the water to reach dangerously high levels and not acted on it sooner. Instead of releasing the waters earlier, gradually and in lesser volumes, they did it suddenly without adequate warning to the communities.”
“The proponents of the dam itself, headed by our own government, should also answer to the millions of victims that were affected by the floods,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
“In addition, to lack of disaster preparedness, the Arroyo government still pursues policies and destructive projects such as large-scale mining and large dams that destroy our environment and make communities more vulnerable and at higher risk to floods, landslides and other disasters,” Bautista said.
According to Tapang, the most devastated provinces of typhoon Pepeng are Pangasinan and Benguet provinces, as these are the areas where the large dams are situated. “Pangasinan is the catch basin of water coming from the series of large dams in the Agno River. Massive flooding in Pangasinan is caused and aggravated by the release of voluminous water from these dams,” he explained.
The three dams located along the Agno River are the Ambuklao Dam, Binga Dam and San Roque Dam. Based on National Power Corporation report a total maximum 6,000 cubic meters per second were being released by three dams on Oct. 9 and is still continuing to release water today.
“Communities and areas near large dam usually experience increase in frequency and more damages from flooding than other areas which are far from dams. After San Roque Dam operated in May 2003, 90% of Pangasinan were submerged in water in September 2004 and after that local communities frequently experienced flooding whenever there is a typhoon,” Tapang said.
The San Roque has received criticism since it was proposed, during the construction and now that it is operating. The Cordillera People’s Alliance, a progressive organization of indigenous peoples in Northern Luzon, said the dam has already caused trouble especially to the community of indigenous peoples who were displaced without any compensation or relocation.The construction also ruined natural waterways, it said.
San Roque Dam was also blamed (https://www.bulatlat.com/news/4-30/4-30-flooding.html) for the massive flooding in Luzon since the dam began operating in 2003.
“If only the people’s opposition was heeded, the present situation may not have happened,” the CPA said in a statement. (Bulatlat.com)