SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives will investigate in aid of legislation the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, on Monday filed House Resolution No. 1348 directing the appropriate committee to immediately conduct the probe.
“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.
To date, the death toll from Typhoon Ulysses has reached 67, with over 20 people missing, and the damage to agriculture and infrastructure estimated to be at least P1.5 billion.
In calling for a legislative inquiry, the three House leaders cited the “gravity and unprecedented nature of the situation, the geographic propensity of the country to natural calamities, and the need to prevent similar situations from occurring.”
The congressional leaders specifically wanted the House 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 Cagayan River.
They also wanted the chamber 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.
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.
Ulysses made the expected landfall, heavy winds and torrential rains battered parts of Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and CALABARZON, causing power failures, extreme flooding and heavy damage to infrastructure and property, and threatened the lives and livelihood of many Filipinos.
The effects of the typhoon also 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 typhoon.
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, 7 of Magat Dam’s gates were opened, and the discharge of water from the reservoir caused rapid and widespread flooding in the surrounding areas.
A few days after Ulysses had exited the Philippine area of responsibility, many areas of Cagayan and Isabela remained submerged, with hundreds stranded in their homes and clinging to rooftops with no access to food or water. #