House probe on Cagayan flooding begins next week

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The House Committee on Agriculture and Food will investigate the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela on Tuesday next week.

“We have already communicated with the proper resource persons an invitation for Tuesday next week,” House panel chair Mark Enverga said at a press conference.

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He explained that the committee wanted to hold the probe as early as Friday this week. However, many of the resource persons were not available due to conflict in schedule.

“We already set a date for Tuesday next week just to ensure everyone will be there. We can ensure everyone na hindi Ito malilimutan, and we will act on this as soon as possible,” he said.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano filed House Resolution 1348, ordering the concerned committees to investigate the flooding immediately.

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“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.

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 lawmakers added.

House probe on begins next week

The lawmakers also wanted the House to investigate the decision of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to open the Magat Dam, and if such a move was compliant with guidelines and protocols.

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera also filed a separate bill calling to probe the “untimely and irresponsible” opening of dams and watersheds in Luzon during Typhoon Ulysses.

On Monday, National Irrigation Administration Administrator Ricardo Visaya explained why Magat Dama had to open its gates and release water amid the heavy rains from Typhoon , saying it would break and cause a bigger tragedy.

Magat 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.

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 was continuously poured into the dam.

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