Warning system for dams vowed

MANILA, Philippines - The National Power Corp. (Napocor) committed yesterday to come up with an updated protocol on the release of water from dams as well as an early warning system for communities in the path of surging waters following an ultimatum from the Senate and the Department of Energy.

Napocor president Froilan Tampinco made the commitment at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Climate Change looking into the devastation caused by raging waters released from dams on a large swath of Luzon, particularly Pangasinan, at the height of typhoon “Pepeng.” The deluge reportedly covered at least 80 percent of Pangasinan.

In the same hearing, Tampinco clarified that the engineers in charge of the San Roque Dam were following protocol when they opened the spill gates of the facility, contrary to the pronouncement of its chief hydrologist Russel Rigor that there was none.

Upon questioning by the senators on Wednesday, Rigor testified that the decision to release water from the dam would depend on the discretion of the engineers and not based on a set of rules.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes gave Tampinco until Monday to submit a report on whether its officials and engineers could be held criminally and administratively liable for ordering the release of water from the San Roque Dam.