The Maranao Muslims dominated province of Lanao del Sur in the south of Philippines was heavily affected by Typhoon Odette that recently hit parts of the country submerging many localities under water that damages millions worth of properties as heavy rains kept on pouring in days and nights for almost a week.
This was not the first calamity that hit Lanao del Sur. Almost every typhoon that had passed them by had made locals suffer with their livelihood severely damaged such as crops and other agricultural products.
Local environmentalists call the disaster man-made and blame the National Power Corporation (NPC) for its dams along the Agus River located in the Islamic City of Marawi as the cause of the flooding.
Environmental lawyer Bayan G. Balt said the flooding in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur is a man-made calamity produced by the NPC-built dams along the Agus River that obstruct the free and natural flow of waters from lake Lanao to its outlet in the Iligan Bay.
“During rainy seasons, the NPC will close or partially close the 2 built regulatory dams located at the mouth of the Agus River and the Saduc dams in order to maintain the required volume of water to feed the turbine of the hydroelectric power plants, which rotate to 90RPM,” Balt said.
“If the flow of waters from lake Lanao to the Agus River exceeded the maintain volume of waters, the turbine will be damaged,” he added.
Balt said once the Dams are closed, low lying areas are flooded while the elevation of the lake’s water level cause damages to fish breeding reefs and downward ecosystem, causing losses and disappearance of fish species, and, worst, mosques and communities submerge.
The NPC generates P45 Billion annual power revenues from its 6 hydro power plants at the expense of the Maranao nation, yet 99% of these funds are sent to Manila, thousands of kilometers away from Marawi City, according to Balt who also heads a coalition against power plants called ARCAPP.
The irregular closing and opening of the Dams are one of the issues raised in a legal action brought by a group of environmentalists against NPC.
If the real cause is the dams built by the NPC along the Agus River, the government should stop this operation and resort to renewable energy sources to avoid catastrophe bringing to the locals and localities. All peace and nature loving leaders should unite to do this. There is no best time to end this environmental hazard at the expense of humanity. (PMT)