House begins probe on Cagayan-Isabela flooding
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives began Tuesday its investigation into the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela provinces, and other localities due to Typhoon Ulysses, that left in its wake a devastation never before seen in the last 40 years.
The inquiry, in aid of legislation, is handled by the House committee on agriculture and food together with the committee on North Luzon growth quadrangle.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano earlier filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the “severe and unprecedented” flooding in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, which some local government officials consider to be the worst they had experienced in four decades.
A similar bill was later filed by Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera.
Some local government officials are pointing their fingers at the National Irrigation Administration’s (NIA) decision to discharge water from the Magat Dam.
While NIA has defended their decision that they have exercised due diligence in informing local government units of the release of its dam waters, it did not stop lawmakers from seeking an investigation regarding the matter.
Nonetheless, Velasco said the investigation will not be about finding fault, but rather to find corrective actions.
He said that the probe should focus on coming up with long-term solutions to prevent devastating death tolls and economic costs of future typhoons.
“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” Velasco said in a statement on Monday.
“The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons,” he added.
Meanwhile, Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga, who chairs the House’s agriculture committee, earlier said that the hearing seeks to “get the facts straight,” adding that his committee will conduct a “clear, concise, and factual” probe on the issue.
“Just to be fair to all as well, it would be very hard also to realize na maybe true enough, NIA did their part, they were responsible enough in following their protocols, maybe the local government officials did not get the proper warnings—I think bottomline, we will find everything from this hearing,” Enverga said in an earlier media forum.
Wilfredo Gloria, operations manager of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System, has said that the NIA could not completely stop the release of water because that could result in a more massive destruction as the dam’s water level was at a critical point.
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