A HOUSE leader on Saturday called on the government to convene what she described as a “flood summit” to prevent flooding similar to what occurred in Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley during the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses.
“We have not learned our lesson from Ondoy and past destructive typhoons that visited the country. There must be a comprehensive, holistic and well coordinated effort to avert flooding,” House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said.
Castelo said the extensive damage and flooding caused by Ondoy was repeated on the same communities by Ulysses like Marikina and low-lying parts of Quezon City’s second district, which she represents.
“Eleven years after, we faced the same problem. Many of those flooded by Ondoy swear that Ulysses was even worse. What have we done during those 11 years? What measures have we taken to prevent similar flooding?” Castelo asked.
She said the damage to lives, property and the economy in general caused by recent typhoons Rolly and Ulysses “is catastrophic, especially considering that these monsters struck us at a time when we are struggling to contain the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.”
“We cannot afford disasters like that. The economy and our people will suffer further, “ she stressed.
She proposed that the flood summit involve all concerned agencies, like the Office of Civil Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Department of National Defense, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Metro Manila Development Authority, and the Office of the President.
“Local government officials should be involved in a comprehensive flooding and disaster response program because they are the implementers and foot soldiers on the ground,” Castelo said.
She said the national government can pattern its flood prevention measures after the programs of some European countries that have successfully contained flooding.
She said it is possible that some of the concerned agencies had sent personnel to these countries to study their programs and the flood containment structures they have built.
“We can even ask them to lend us some of their engineers and experts.
We have to solve this problem once and for all, or at least lessen flooding in the future,” she added.
Earlier, Castelo urged the government work out a plan for the calibrated release of water in dams during typhoons.
She said it’s not too late to address the issue of releasing water in dams and who makes the decision.
“The matter is apparently left to the operators of the dams and the power plants in them who want to protect their facilities at the cost of losing lives and property of people in low-lying areas like many communities in Quezon City,” she said.
She said there should be a single agency of experts, including meteorologists, engineers, geologists, and hydrologists, that will determine and decide if and when to open a dam’s spillway in case.
“I can appreciate that a dam has to be protected and saved from possible damage, or worse, from collapsing, but we also have to weigh the cost to lives and property,” she stressed.