THE House committee on agriculture and food will begin next week the formal investigation into the massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
The panel, chaired by Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga, has set on Nov. 24 the public hearing on House Resolution No. 1348 filed by House leaders led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco last Monday.
Velasco, along with Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, has called for a congressional probe into what triggered the widespread flooding that killed at least 29 people in Cagayan Valley Region.
At the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” media forum, 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 explained.
Enverga said they 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.”
In the same forum, House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera 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 pointed out.
Herrera 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.
She 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.
Powered by heavy winds and torrential rains, Typhoon Ulysses 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.