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The US-Arroyo’s NAPOCOR, Guilty of Criminal Neglect in Recklessly Opening the San Roque Da

by Pesante-USA Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 at 11:05 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Philippine Peasant Support Network (Pesante-USA)- a US based environmental and peasant advocacy group expressed outrage over the extreme arrogance of the US-Arroyo regime and its subalterns in the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) in evading and refusal to account for the latest tragedy caused by the opening of the San Roque dam floodgates. Cordillera region and Pangasinan was greatly affected and was under distress. 


More than 40 landslides occurred in the Cordilleras triggered by the massive rain which resulted in as many as 250 deaths. Pesante is outraged that the people who opposed the dam were those who suffered the greatest- the people of Benguet.

The US-Arroyo’s NAPO...
img_3536.jpgnubzny.jpg, image/jpeg, 3888x2592

PESANTE NEWS
October 16, 2009

The US-Arroyo’s NAPOCOR, Guilty of Criminal Neglect in Recklessly Opening the San Roque Dam

Los Angeles--The Philippine Peasant Support Network (Pesante-USA)- a US based environmental and peasant advocacy group expressed outrage over the extreme arrogance of the US-Arroyo regime and its subalterns in the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) in evading and refusal to account for the latest tragedy caused by the opening of the San Roque dam floodgates.

Cordillera region and Pangasinan was greatly affected and was under distress. 


More than 40 landslides occurred in the Cordilleras triggered by the massive rain which resulted in as many as 250 deaths. Pesante is outraged that the people who opposed the dam were those who suffered the greatest- the people of Benguet.

Local groups attributed the area’s increased vulnerability to landslides to the long-term large-scale mining activities especially in Itogon and Mankayan in Benguet province. 

Typhoon Pepeng’s rains also brought floodwaters cascading downstream.

Opposition to the Dam, 1992

As early as 1998, Pesante allies like the KMP and the CPA campaigned actively against the construction of the San Roque Multipurpose Dam in Pangasinan.

We raised the issue to the Ramos and the Arroyo governments and even to the Japanese funders of the project, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The reasons were many. It was a $1.2-billion project that was given government guarantee. It is also part of the infamous (and now embedded) Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) that bloats up your electricity bill. Issues regarding accelerated siltation due to the mining activities upriver as well as its problem as a flood control program were also raised.



Supposed to be the biggest dam in Asia

The San Roque dam was touted to be the biggest dam in Asina ( that was before the Upper Yangtze River dam was built in China) is the third large dam along the Agno River in the Cordillera Region. The Agno River traverses the areas where the Ibalois and the Kan-kanaey indigenous peoples reside making it a very important part of their life and culture.

Upstream is the Ambuklao dam built in the 1950s and the Binga dam is next built in the 1960s. Both dams are now heavily silted due to the rapid erosion and mining activities in the area.

In 1998 the construction on the San Roque dam started despite the vigorous opposition not only of the people from the Cordillera but also those from the low lying areas of Pangasinan and Central Luzon. The SMRP clearly was built for the benefit of the big mining corporations in the Cordillera.


Impoundment of water in the reservoir started in August 2002 and the dam became operational in May 2003. It stands 220 meters from the ground and traverses 1.13 km along its length. It can hold up to 850 million cubic meters and covers over 12.8 square kilometers in area.



Today, the dam is operated by the San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC) and it is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the power-facility. The SRPC is owned by the Marubeni Corp. (75 percent) and Kansai Electric Power Co. Ltd. (25 percent). It is a stock corporation incorporated in the Philippines.

It is a hydroelectric dam designed to produce 345 megawatts of power. Water must be kept high within the dam to be released to turn the turbines to generate electricity.

Criminal neglect of the NAPOCOR

This is the bone of contention right now. During the period when Pepeng reversed its direction, there were news reports quoting dam officials speaking of their reluctance to release water because they wanted to keep it for electricity. 

We noticed that between October 4 and 5, the data from the Pagasa flood monitoring website showed that the water in the dam reached the spilling level of 280 meters. Surprisingly, a day after (October 5), the spilling level was shifted higher to 288 m even if there was no massive release of water yet from the dam.

This adjustment of the spill level has not been explained yet by the SRPC, Napocor officials and the Pagasa. 

The adjusted spilling level at 288 m would justify the late release of water from the dam since it was only on October 8 that the water level broke this adjusted line. However, before the adjustment, it was at 280 meters that the San Roque dam would already release water.

With water levels rising to more than 9 meters above 280 meters, the dam would have to release water as fast as it could. Water levels also came dangerously close to the height of the dam itself which is at 290 meters. 

Why did they have to wait for 288 meters during Pepeng?

They could have released water slowly during October 4 when they saw the water levels rising above the then-280-meter mark. 

The San Roque Multipurpose Dam failed in its flood management function.

The opposing interest of power generation and flood management makes the situation dangerous since a power corporation will prioritize its own interests rather than those of the low-lying communities below.

The two flooding disasters we went through is a result of a failure of our disaster response systems compounded by long standing environmental problems and gross mismanagement at all levels.

Pesante-USA and its allies warning that the San Roque Dam is a monster, is right after all!

********

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