Infrawatch PH calls decision to discharge water from dams a ‘criminal incompetence’

Published November 14, 2020, 3:01 PM

by Ben Rosario

Philippine-based intrastructure-oriented thinktank Infrawatch PH on Saturday decried as “criminal incompetence” the decision of government agencies to discharge water from several dams, thus triggering floods in huge areas in Luzon that may have brought more deaths and heavier damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

“This is nothing but criminal incompetence and failure of leadership by the national government. Discharge protocols are left to the discretion of dam operators, such as NIA, Napocor, among others,” said a statement issued by former Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, lead convenor of Infrawatch PH.  Ridon was former chief of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor under the Duterte administration.

“Without a central authority managing the proper and timely discharge of various dams, water is discharged in river systems already overburdened by heavy rainfall. No less than the heads of NIA and Napocor should be made accountable for this unacceptable criminal oversight,” the group stated.

Ridon said the failure of dam operators to provide sufficient and early warning to localities that will be affected by massive dam discharges makes them criminally responsible for the deaths and damage to property and agriculture caused by their decision.

The former lawmaker stressed that the impact of Typhoon Ulysses could have been mitigated had the planned multi-dam discharges been managed by a single authority.

“We had 11 years since Ondoy to prepare for this exact same moment yet Marikina and Cagayan Valley are flooded as a result of unmanaged dam discharges. Was the massive dam discharges in the early morning hours of the typhoon a result of poor management? We demand answers from the highest levels of government,” Ridon said.

Ridon said Malacanang is not in a position to deny responsibility in the tragic cause of the dam discharges.

“They knew that there was a quick succession of typhoons entering the country in the past and next few weeks. Did they not authorize an aggressive but programmatic dam discharge in preparation for heavy rainfall during this time? If they did not, then the deaths and economic damage in all these communities rest solely on their shoulders,” he said.

The former student leader slammed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque for dismissing #NasaanAngPangulo as a political propaganda of the opposition.

“Secretary Roque should be reminded that #NasaanAngPangulo was created in the previous administration, to demand national leadership by the President during calamities and crises,’ stressed Ridon.

Ridon said Malacanang should make clear distinctions on well-meaning citizens genuinely seeking the President’s leadership at this time.

“Certainly, now is the time to work together and rebuild lost lives and communities. But the Palace gains no favors taking potshots at its perceived enemies. It was not the public that wasted time reading names of small-time corrupt employees during a public address instead of focusing on reassuring the public that government has sorted its response to the typhoon,” said the Infrawatch PH convenor.