Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday dams should be opened to release water even before a typhoon hits so it would no longer contribute to heavy flooding.
During a security briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte in Cagayan, Año reported that at least six dams in the area opened their water gates, which he claimed contributed to the flooding.
“I think we will propose na in times of calamities and typhoon, dapat merong nagkokontrol diyan. Sino, kailan bubuksan ang dam,” he said.
“Dapat before the bagyo pwede na tayong magbukas lalo na kung meron tayong forecast kung gaano kalaki yung ulan na darating,” he added.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) should be authorized to control dams’ opening, especially when there is a typhoon, Año added.
“I will propose na pag-usapan namin sa NDRRMC na sa times ng calamity o typhoon, ang NDRRMC ang magbibigay ng approval kung kailan pwede magbukas, ilang gate, para controlled natin,” he said.
“Yan ang sinasabi ng ating mga LGUs, katulad sa Region IV, III at NCR na nakadagdag talaga ng pagbaha ang pagbubukas ng dam,” he added.
Año suggests opening of dams before typhoons strike
Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba believed the water from Magat Dam and other provinces caused the “worst” flooding in 40 years.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has been releasing water from Magat Dam since Nov. 9, even before the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco). The dam opened seven gates at one point on November 12 and released water volume equivalent to 106.223 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or around two swimming pools per second.
However, NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said the dam would break and cause bigger tragedy if waters were not released.
The NIA official said the Magat Dam reservoir was catching water from eight water tributaries from Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. Even if Ulysses did not directly affect the Magat Dam area, water continuously poured into the dam.
Meanwhile, Mark Timbal, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson, claimed that the Cagayan Valley widespread flooding was due to the Cagayan River’s swelling and not because of Magat Dam’s water.