Año backs call for disaster body to decide dam water release
MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday supported the proposal of some mayors to let the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) have the final say on when to release water from dams during storms or other calamities.
But at the same time, he clarified that the heavy flooding in Cagayan Valley could not be blamed on the water from Magat Dam but on the series of typhoons that hit Luzon.
In a radio interview, Año said he was in favor of the proposal by Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Cagayan Valley mayors, adding that “it would be a big deal if the water from the dams [does] not add to floodwaters because the current and flow of water from dams is stronger than [that of rains].”
He observed that there was a lack of coordination between dam managers and local governments, saying that “dam managers just stick to their [prespilling] protocol since their priority is to ensure water supply for irrigation and electricity.”
“If they (dam managers) release too much water, the consequence is no longer their expertise,” Año said.
Should the proposal be approved, dam managers would no longer be allowed to decide on their own when to release water since this would be “under the NDRRMC’s authority,” he added.
Malacañang also said that involving the NDRRMC would help ensure the timely publication of the notice for the dams’ water release.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the National Irrigation Administration regional office had issued a warning on Nov. 9 about the release of water from dams, but it was not carried by mainstream media.
But the media was not to blame, he clarified.
If the NDRRMC is involved, reporters covering the Department of National Defense (DND) would be able to pick up notices about dam water release, Roque said. The NDRRMC is under the DND.
—With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
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