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Were The Dams Near Breaking Point Or Was There Criminal Incompetence?

October 12, 2009


News is cyclical.

This a truism known by journalists who’ve pounded the beats and manned editorial slots in newsrooms.

The grind is such that any ‘slot man’ is expected to really pound away at almost any story with the detachment akin to that of medical practitioners.

No story fazes.

But I must confess I’m out of breath and of adjectives to characterize the stream of heart-sinking reports about the killers flood and landslides now gripping northern Luzon.

But one unmistakable conclusion is in my mind.

Yes, the immense tragedy that continues to unfold did get its spark from of back-to-back tropical cyclones Ondoy and Pepeng (with the latter overstaying our non-welcome).


But I believe the clear culprit, particularly in the massive floods in Pangasinan (all the way to the plain of central Luzon), has been the ill-considered release of up to 100-billion liters of rainwater from the mammoth San Roque and Pantabangan dams.

Sure the National Power Corporation was hurriedly ordered thus morning to close the spillways.

sn roque dam water graph 1sn roque dam water graph 2

But not after the protective dikes in Rosales Pangasinan on the banks of the Agno river were destroyed.

I am thinking criminal incompetence compounding the rains brought by Mother Nature.

(Till now there are rumors about supposed hairline cracks in one of the dams.)

panhgassinan under water

In the aftermath we will probably see investigations into the opening of the spillways.

Engineers will surely have in their defense data from PAGA showing the water level in San Roque way above critical.

I can even accept this for now seeing how the Arroyo administration itself is practically raising its hands in surrender over the catastrophic floods and landslide.

After the seeming failure of prayers all that’s left many for many of us to do is weep.

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