Farmers group launches relief drive in flood-hit areas-A A +A
Friday, August 17, 2012
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl) has distributed relief goods to flood victims in Pangasinan as part of the Oplan Sagip Kanayunan-Gitnang Luson on 200 barangays of some 18 towns along the Agno River.
AMGL chair Joseph Canlas said they decided to help residents in said towns that suffered severe flooding during the heavy monsoon rains on August 7 to 8 and water release at San Roque multi-purpose dam (SRMDP) located in San Manuel town and other barangays in Binmaley and Calasiao towns.
Canlas said their organizing thrusts for peasants in Central Luzon extend up the province of Pangasinan, and their relief drive was launched in cooperation with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis Partylist and Alay Bayan Luson Inc. (ABI).
“This is our modest effort to help our fellow farmers. We are still gathering goods to aid other areas such as Zambales, where the mountains are destroyed by mining operations,” Joseph Canlas said, AMGL chairperson and Anakpawis Regional Coordinator.
Canlas is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of ABI.
Canlas said they were able to distribute 200 food packs to farmers of Barangay Lomboy in Binmaley, 150 packs to farmers of Barangay Malabago, 150 packs to Barangay Talibaew in Calasiao town. The groups also gave rice porridge (lugaw) to the beneficiaries.
The relief drive is the Central Luzon version of the nationwide relief and rehabilitation campaign Oplan Sagip Kanayunan led by KMP, Anakpawis, Pamalakaya (fisherfolk), Uma (agri-workers) and Amihan (peasant women).
The goods were donated by various sponsors coordinated by KMP and Anakpawis in Manila.
“While Bulacan and Pampanga towns located at the catch basin of Angat and Pantabangan rivers are totally flooded, they are relatively reachable to our network groups from Manila. Thus, we are prioritizing areas from farther provinces such as Pangasinan and Zambales,” Canlas said.
Both government agencies and media reported that the disaster in Pangasinan was clearly worsened by the release of water from SRMDP at a rate of 499 cubic meters per second (cms) on August 9 when water level reached 281.92 meters above sea level (masl).
“The people of Pangasinan would testify that these regular flooding only started when the San Roque dam was constructed and the flow rate of water from rivers towards Lingayen Gulf used to be on a tolerable rate, not causing floods of this magnitude,” Canlas said.
In August 2004, months after the dam's first year of operations, Pangasinan residents suffered deep flooding not because of a typhoon but due only to a continuous rainfall.
Residents said there was no annual flooding in Pangasinan prior to San Roque dam's construction.
At 10 p.m. of August 2, the SRMDP, at an elevation of 276.66 masl, released water at rate 330 centimeters. The next day, Dagupan City's 18 of 31 barangays and three barangays of the town of Bugallon town were flooded.
“Common Pangasinenses are facing a private entity's multi-billion pesos profiteering from San Roque dam's power generation at a cost of losses from their already marginalized existence, such as the P4.7 billion damages to agriculture caused by the flash flood during Typhoon Ondoy-Pepeng on September 2009. Based on government's data, the recent calamity caused Pangasinan's fishery sector P7.66 million,” Canlas said.
San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC), the firm operating the dam is owned by Japanese corporation Marubeni Corp. and Kansai Electric Power Corp. SRPC operates with a power purchase agreement with the National Power Corp.
Canlas called on different sectors of Pangasinan to support their call to nationalize San Roque dam as its private and profit orientation are in truth worsening the effects of natural calamities on the people.
“Flooding and other disasters could only be avoided if the people's interest is prioritized on operating the dam,” he added.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 18, 2012.