Pangilinan seeks Senate probe on deadly Cagayan flooding

FOLLOWING the call of Vice President Leni Robredo to investigate the unprecedented flooding in Cagayan Valley, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday said that he will file a Senate resolution to probe Typhoon Ulysses-induced flooding that has already claimed 24 lives in the region.

“Tama po si Vice President Leni. Sunod-sunod na mga sakuna ang nangyari sa bansa nitong mga nakaraang linggo, pero dapat pa ring tanungin: Naiwasan kaya ito kung na-control nang maayos ang pagbukas ng mga flood gates ng Magat Dam? Kung nabigyan ba ng sapat na warnings ang ating mga kababayan na tatamaan ng mga pagbaha?” Pangilinan said.

As former chair of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in 2014-2015, Pangilinan said that there are protocols that should have been followed on dam discharge and flood warning.

“Merong protocol yan, at hindi lang sa ilalim ng isang ahensya. Coordinated dapat with Pagasa and the local governments lalo na sa usapin ng early warning. Kailangan din dapat nagsagawa ng inspections o kaya checkup sa mga warning stations at equipment. Ang pagbababala rin ay dapat through texts, radio, local TV — lahat ng paraan,” Pangilinan said.

“Sa madaling sabi, kung nasunod ang mga protocol at napaghandaan nang maayos si Ulysses, maaring naiwasan sana ito,” he said.

According to Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon, the gates of Magat Dam were still closed 3 to 4 days prior to the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses, as opposed to its protocol that Magat should have been able to make sufficient water drawdown 2 to 3 days before landfall.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said that the people of Cagayan have been planning to sue Magat Dam for the damage they experience every year. Officials say this is the worst flooding in Cagayan in 45 years.

During a Monday interview on Headstart, Vice President Robredo also urged the affected regions to invest in “disaster-proofing” to mitigate the effects of the typhoons in their localities.

“Maraming karanasan sina VP Leni sa Bicol ukol sa mga bagyo. Makinig tayo sa mga scientist at eksperto at simulan nang mas lalong paigitingin ang ating disaster preparedness and response. Natuto na tayo dapat noong Ondoy at Yolanda. Hindi natin papalampasin ito at susuriin nating mabuti kung meron nga bang kapabayaan na nangyari,” Pangilinan said.

At least 50 villages in Cagayan Province are still isolated by floods as of November 16, according to the Inquirer.

Ulysses is the third major typhoon that have battered Luzon in three weeks. Damages to infrastructure from Typhoon Ulysses alone is estimated to be at P470 million.