NIA pressed to explain Bustos Dam opening, causing Bulacan flooding | Inquirer News

NIA pressed to explain Bustos Dam opening, causing Bulacan flooding

/ 10:01 PM August 02, 2023

VILLAGE RIDE Floodwaters rise to at least 1.52 meters (5 feet) in the inner roads of Barangay Frances in Calumpit town, Bulacan province, on Monday, forcing residents to take a boat. Heavy rains in the past few days also flooded sections of the North Luzon Expressway in Bulacan and Pampanga on Monday and Tuesday. —LYN RILLON

Floodwaters rise to at least 1.52 meters (5 feet) in the inner roads of Barangay Frances in Calumpit town, Bulacan province, forcing residents to take a boat.—LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate blue ribbon committee called on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to address allegations that the massive flooding in Bulacan was exacerbated by the unannounced release of water from Bustos Dam.

“In Bulacan, we are requesting NIA to address Governor [Daniel] Fernando’s allegations because the situation in Bulacan is truly tragic. It is still flooded now,” said Senator Francis Tolentino during a press briefing on Wednesday.


Tolentino also chairs the chamber’s blue ribbon committee.


The Senate panel held a public hearing on Wednesday to seeking to investigate alleged irregularities regarding NIA’s irrigation projects. In the hearing, they discussed the extensive flooding in Bulacan, which was believed to have been exacerbated by the dam’s water release.

“I want to ask the current head of NIA: Why did they not coordinate with local government units when they opened the gates of Bustos Dam? LGUs were shocked last Saturday. It was still high tide then, and suddenly the dam at Bustos was opened, causing floods in Calumpit, Hagonoy, up to Plaridel, Malolos, Sta. Maria — almost all of Bulacan,” said Tolentino in Filipino.

In response, NIA Acting Administrator Engineer Eduardo Guillen stated: “The protocol states that the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office needs to disseminate the information regarding the dam’s spilling activities.”

“I just want to point out, Sir, this is not a reservoir dam. The Bustos Dam is a diversion dam. It will definitely overflow because it does not have a large reservoir,” Guillen added.

Tolentino said the investigation into this incident will be time-consuming, and the committee will conduct another hearing.

In a separate press conference on Wednesday, Senator Joel Villanueva expressed dismay over the persistent flooding in the country.


“It’s just so frustrating yesterday that I went around Paombong, Calumpit, Hagonoy — each and every town [that I went to], each and every barangay — I’m not talking about one or two barangays, all barangays are submerged in water,” said Villanueva.

This led the senator to question the effectiveness of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ programs.

“Can we say it’s effective? Does anyone measure the effectiveness of our flood control program? We’re visited by typhoons more than 20 times a year, but you know, just this one particular typhoon that hit our country, here in Bulacan alone, in my home province alone, there’s already P700 million to P800 million damage, and it’s still counting,” he said.

Earlier, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano criticized the DPWH and expressed the desire to scrutinize the department’s proposed funds for 2024 to ensure the allocation of its budget—the second-highest among all government agencies—for the right infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, Villanueva said the government should create an integrated master plan for the country’s flood control and strictly adhere to the protocol on the release of water in dams to address this persistent issue.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri agreed with Villanueva’s recommendation during the same press conference.

“Let’s make a master plan, a long-term program to get rid of this flood scourge,” said Zubiri.

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