The Oplan Sagip Kanayunan-Gitnang Luson relief drive was launched by the farmers' group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers' Alliance in Central Luzon), together with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis Partylist and Alay Bayan Luson, Inc. (ABI) in Binmaley and Calasiao towns in Pangasinan. About 200 barangays of 18 towns of Pangasinan mostly along Agno river suffered severe flooding during the heavy monsoon rainfall on August 7 to 8 and water release of San Roque multi-purpose dam (SRMDP) located in San Manuel town.
“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.
Amgl said that the relief drive were able to distribute 200 packs to farmers of Brgy. Lomboy in Binmaley town, 150 packs to farmers of Brgy. Malabago, 150 packs to Brgy. Talibaew in Calasiao town. The groups also gave “lugaw” meals 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.
Amgl said that the disaster in Pangasinan was clearly worsened by the release of water from SRMDP at a rate of 499 cubic meter 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.
On August of 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 that there was no annual flooding in Pangasinan prior to San Roque dam's construction. As early as August 2, 10pm, at 276.66 masl, SRMDP released water at rate 330 cms. and the next day, Dagupan City's 18 of 31 barangays and 3 barangays of Bugallon town were flooded.
“The Pangasinan people is facing a private entity's multi-billion pesos profiteering from San Roque dam's power generation at a cost of their losses 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.
“We call on different sectors of Pangasinan to support us on our call to nationalize San Roque dam as its private and profit orientation are actually 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,” Canlas called. #