Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mayors Who Damned San Roque Dam Were Joking, Right?

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Angry mayors Monday called for the decommissioning of the San Roque Dam, fearing its location near a fault line raised the possibility that it could collapse during an earthquake and wipe out Pangasinan province. (Source: Inquirer.Net)
Mayors of Pangasinan actually thought it was cool to damn the San Roque dam. As an ordinary citizen who studied land and water resources engineering in college, I could not help but wonder how the San Roque dam was built in the first place . . .  if the mayors' claim was correct: that the dam was built on a fault line!

That wonderment led me to think that either the dam designers and reviewers eight years ago were joking, or the Pangasinan mayors just wanted to humor themselves and everyone else a few days ago.

Unless these mayors were engineers trained on how to design and build dams---and whose collective wisdom was largely ignored eight years ago---I could not see any reason why they would suddenly express opinions about matters outside of their technical expertise, and actually mean it.

That, to my knowledge, was simply not the nature of mayors in the Philippines, wasn't it?

To me the whole crackalacking controversy stemmed from the fact that the dam managers released water at the height of typhoon Peping, clearly to save the dam and the people downstream. But as it was, flood waters drowned people, houses and livelihoods.

Whether those flood waters all came from the dam or from other channels was, at best, debatable. Nonetheless, the resulting devastation was not acceptable, and I wouldn't dare to downplay that.

But what we should not also downplay was that the San Roque dam went through the approval processes of the national government agencies, the local governments, as well as the regional development councils. The damned multi-million dollar dam did not just suddenly appear out of nowhere. It went through the scrutiny of everyone that mattered in Pangasinan, the mayors included.

But then a few days ago the mayors seemed to claim that the San Roque dam went through despite the fault line?

Regardless of where you would look at it, you'd be greatly amazed by our society's sense of humor, wouldn't you?

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