House To Probe Cagayan-Isabela Flooding

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Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and two other House leaders on Monday filed a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry into the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

In filing House Resolution 1348, Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano cited the “gravity and unprecedented nature” of the situation and the need to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

The House leaders specifically wanted the lower chamber to probe the circumstances surrounding the rapid inflow of water into the reservoir, as well as any non-compliance with laws, rules, or regulations that may have had a contributory effect to the swelling of the Cagayan River.

They also wanted to look into the decision of the National Irrigation Administration to open the spillway gates of Magat Dam, and if such action was done in accordance with duly established guidelines and protocols.

“As the death toll continues to rise, and the extent of damage is slowly being revealed, there is an urgent need to examine the actions that were taken during, before, and after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses,” Velasco said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the death toll from Typhoon Ulysses has reached 67 and damage to agriculture is estimated to be at least PHP2.14 billion.

Given the circumstances and the predicted Category-4 strength of the typhoon, the House leaders said the forecast should have prompted concerned government agencies and local government units to take necessary preemptive action to mitigate possible adverse effects on local communities.

The lawmakers noted that the effects of the typhoon caused massive destruction in Cagayan Valley, particularly in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, as the region experienced unprecedented flooding in the wake of the calamity.

The damage was reportedly due to the swelling of the Cagayan River from the amount of rainwater coming in from its 18 tributaries, with the increase in water level further exacerbated by the outflow of water from the Magat Dam.

It was reported that at the height of Ulysses, seven of Magat Dam’s gates were opened, and the discharge of water from the reservoir caused rapid and widespread flooding in the surrounding areas. (PNA)

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