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Angat Dam poses a big threat to many Bulacan towns

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:38:00 09/24/2010

Filed Under: Disasters (general), Infrastructure, Flood

I HAVE been reading the Inquirer almost every day. I agree with many of the issues it raises, although, I also disagree with some of its views. Just the same, I consider the Inquirer a great newspaper with the biggest circulation in our country.

I read the Aug. 23 Inquirer editorial which talked about the negligence and lack of concern of some of our government officials in the recent bus accident in Benguet, which killed 43 persons.

But hundreds of lives are lost and hundreds of millions of pesos? worth of property are destroyed almost every rainy season and during big floods.

Remember the Angat Dam tragedy on Oct. 26, 1978, at the height of typhoon ?Kading.? It killed more than 200 people and destroyed hundreds of millions of pesos? worth of property in Bulacan. In 1992, water had to be released from the dam, and this cut off transportation between the north and Metro Manila for almost a week. Last year, there were the deaths and damages caused by ?Ondoy? and ?Pepeng? in Bulacan, particularly in Baliuag, Pulilan, Sta. Maria, Bocaue, Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando. All these were caused by water suddenly released from Angat Dam when it could no longer contain torrential water because of illegal logging in the watershed and the fact that the 42-year-old dam is now heavily silted. We got to this point because of apathy, negligence and lack of concern (walang malasakit) on the part of government officials.

Angat Dam is only 63,000 hectares with a water level of 217 meters, irrigating 20 municipalities, 10 from Pampanga and 10 from Bulacan. And it is Metro Manila?s only source of water. Now, the water level is only 185 meters or less during the dry season threatening Metro Manila with a serious water crisis.

For years, I have been writing concerned public officials in Central Luzon, at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other national government agencies in Metro Manila, but they obviously just don?t care about the denudation of the Angat watershed.

I have written our governor, the chair of the Senate environment committee, but up to now, I have not received any reply. I am writing this because I have heard that there are huge logs in the upper portions of Angat. Just one of these dragged down by rampaging waters can cause enough destruction to the dam and could kill hundreds of people as what happened in 1978. We can only pray that local officials in Central Luzon and the national officials in Metro Manila would seriously look into this alarming threat, however it may be late in the day.

Blaming one another after a tragedy caused by neglect and apathy cannot do justice for the victims, most of whom come from the ranks of the poor.

National Association of Lawyers
for Justice and Peace (NALJP),

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