House panel sets probe on Cagayan-Isabela flooding for Nov. 24

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2020   •   628

MANILA, Philippines – The House Committee on Agriculture is set to conduct on November 24 an investigation into the severe flooding that submerged many areas in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Committee chairman, Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga said the House would have wanted the hearings done sooner so lawmakers could come up with solutions, and legislation if needed, to prevent more flooding in the future.

“We communicated with the proper resource persons. We understand there were several constraints,” Enverga said.

He said the panel wanted to start the investigation as early as Friday, Nov. 20, but “the Senate is currently having their budget hearings and some Departments could not make it.”

“We set it on Tuesday next week just so everyone can be there during the hearings,” he said.

Enverga vowed to conduct a “clear, concise and factual hearing on this matter just to get to the bottom of this.”

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, along with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, has called for a congressional probe into what triggered the widespread flooding in Cagayan Valley Region.

Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera, who also filed a resolution seeking inquiry into the issue, said the purpose of the investigation was to find facts that could lead to corrective actions, not to find fault.

“Hindi naman ito more of ‘sinong mas may kasalanan?’ Of course part of it is that, but most of it is we have to find out paano natin maiiwasan. What are the things we need to do in Congress to ensure, in aid of legislation, na maiwasan natin ang mga bagay na ito?” Herrera said.

The deputy majority leader has also filed a resolution seeking inquiry into what she branded as “untimely and irresponsible” opening of floodgates of dams and watersheds in Luzon during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Herrera said that while natural disasters could not be prevented from happening, these are usually aggravated by man-made activities.

“It has been a perennial problem in the country—this is not the first time this has happened and it saddens me that we still have not come up with solutions to prevent all these from happening,” Herrera said.

Typhoon Ulysses battered parts of Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and CALABARZON, causing power failures, extreme flooding and heavy damages to infrastructure and property, and threatened the lives and livelihood of many Filipinos.


House probe on Ulysses’ floods to focus on finding solutions – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday said he wants the panel investigation on the severe flooding that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela areas to focus more on coming up with long-term solutions to prevent deaths and economic costs in future disasters.

Velasco issued the statement as the House Committee on Agriculture and Food sets to conduct its probe on Tuesday.

Velasco said the purpose of the probe is to establish facts that could lead to corrective actions, and not to find fault on concerned individuals and agencies.

“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” Velasco said.

“The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons,” he added.

Velasco said the congressional hearing will also focus on how to better address proper protocols and preparedness even before a natural disaster strikes.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent deaths and loss of properties from happening,” he said.

The panel has invited officials of the National Irrigation Administration and the local governments of Cagayan and Isabela for the hearing on Tuesday.

The inquiry was called by Velasco, together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, through House Resolution No. 1348 into the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.

The country was hit by a series of typhoons – Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses – from late October to early November this year.

Ulysses caused heavy damages to infrastructure and agriculture and claimed 73 lives. The typhoon also affected thousands of families in parts of Luzon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

 The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity following the onslaught of recent typhoons.

Over P100 million worth of assistance provided to families affected by Ulysses — NDRRMC

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Friday said that more than P100 million worth of assistance has been provided to families affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

In its latest situation report, the NDRRMC said a total of P114,615,669.25 worth of aid has been extended to affected families in Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, V, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The NDRRMC indicated in its report that the assistance came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units, non-government organizations and private groups.

Typhoon Ulysses affected a total of 891,457 families in Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, V, National Capital Region, and the Cordillera.

Of this number, 45,906 families remain in evacuation centers.

The number of fatalities remained at 73 while 24 were injured and 19 others went missing.

Around 41 road sections and 42 bridges are still not passable due to the impact of the typhoon.

The entire Luzon region has been placed under a state of calamity due to widespread damage left by Typhoon Ulysses and other strong storms that battered parts of the country in the previous weeks. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Angat Dam has no role in Marikina flood — Usec. Solidum

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Many speculations surfaced as to the massive flooding that submerged portions of Marikina and Pasig during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum explained in an interview with UNTV on Friday (November 29) what could have caused the deluge in Marikina and Pasig despite the fact that the volume of rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses was lesser than that of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

“Ang source ng tubig pagdating sa baha sa Marikina-Pasig river ay iyong ulan mismo na tatama sa Sierra Madre [The source of floodwater in Marikina-Pasig river would have been the rainfall that will hit the Sierra Madre],” said Solidum, who is also the Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and  Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

“Talagang hiwalay po ang rivers na nag-de-drain sa Marikina River at sa Angat. In fact, usapin na rin ito noong panahon ni Ondoy. Kung matatandaan ninyo, ganoon din ang mga usapin pero hiwalay po talaga sila,” he added.

[Marikina River and Angat drain into two separate directions. In fact, this was the same issue during Ondoy. If you recall, this was the same issue but they are separate.]

Solidum explained that the water that is being released from Angat Dam usually flows towards Bulacan specifically the towns of Norzagaray, Angat, Bustos, San Rafael, Baliwag, Plaridel, Calumpit, Hagonoy, and Paombong; not, and never will reach, Marikina City.

National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) Dam Manager Engr. Conrado Sison Jr said they always make sure that the process of releasing excess water in dams is under careful control because they have to maintain a sufficient water supply for irrigation in view of the dry season.

“Hindi tayo basta-basta nagpapakawala ng tubig dahil iyan po ay mahalaga din po sa atin [We do not just release water considering its value],” he said.

“Kung nagkaroon tayo ng premature spilling din tapos wala ng darating na ulan parang tinapon lang natin yung tubig which is alam naman natin lalong lalo na dito sa area na ito eh kailangan din naman para sa domestic water supply at irrigation [If we there was premature spilling without expecting another rainfall, it’s like wasting water that could have been used for domestic supply and irrigation],” he added.

USec. Solidum believes that man-made activities could have worsened the situation like deforestation, uprooting of trees and quarrying that resulted in landslides and flash floods.

Madami na pong mga subdivision o settlement sa taas ng Marikina for example sa Rodriguez Rizal, San Mateo na ang epekto po nito imbes na yung tubig ulan pumasok sa baba sa lupa. Ito po ay gagapang ng mabilis kasi sementado na, aspaltado na at didiretso nang mas mabilis sa ilog,” Solidum said.

[There are a lot of subdivisions or settlement areas right above Marikina. For example, in Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal, the soil could no longer absorb the rainwater because the roads are already cemented. The water would tend to rapidly flow to the river.]

“Ngayon iyong  mga ilog hindi rin nababawasan ang lalim. Nagsi-silt po iyan dahil sa mga baha previously at mga basura. Sa mga factors pong iyan talagang bibilis po ang pagdating ng tubig sa ilog at biglang tataas ang tubig,” he added.

[Also, the depth of rivers do not change. The rivers silted up because of the previous floods and waste deposits. So from those factors, water will rapidly flow downstream and will cause a sudden increase in river water.]

Solidum added that the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses also coincided with the high tide conditions.

The experts said it is still important at present to work on restoring the rivers into their original carrying capacity and encourage tree planting to help prevent much worse incidents associated with the overflowing of rivers. MNP (with reports from Val Villaflor)


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