THE peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has urged the House of Representatives to dig deeper into the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela provinces, and other localities due to Typhoon Ulysses to make concerned people accountable for the tragedy.
KMP President Danilo Ramos said the joint hearing by the House committees on agriculture and food and on North Luzon growth quadrangle should not just focus on the release of water from Magat Dam but also on illegal black sand mining and illegal logging.
The KMP reacted to the statement of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that climate change and the release of water from Magat Dam are possible causes of severe and unprecedented flooding in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, which some local government officials consider to be the worst they had experienced in four decades.
Ramos said the joint panel should not just review the dam protocols in a bid to prevent similar tragedy in the future.
He said the House probe should look into the illegal logging activities in the mountains of Cagayan and Isabela and the illegal black sand mining believed to have caused the tragedy.
Nevertheless, the KMP welcomed the inquiry as they underscored the need to make the concerned people accountable.
“Tingin po namin mahalagang matukoy kung sino responsable at ‘di matulad sa iba na after ng insidente ay basta nawala na lang sa limot. Kailangang magkaroon ng hustisya sa mamamayan na naapektuhan. Ito ang pinakamagandang pagkakataon para tingnan ng mga mambabatas ang pagkalbo ng mga bundok at pagkasira ng kalikasan,” Ramos said.
“Mahalaga ang imbestigasyon na ito ng Kamara pero ang aming apela ay huwag lang mag-focus sa dam,” Ramos added.
During the inquiry, Velasco said the release of water in Magat Dam could have complicated the flooding in Cagayan and Isabela which House Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera supported by reviewing the seemingly 2006 outdated dam protocol.
But National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya maintained during the hearing that the opening of Magat Dam gates is not the reason behind the flooding, but illegal logging and quarrying.
Visaya stressed that the agency had followed the protocol in releasing water from the Magat Dam when it reached spilling level.
He presented a document and matrix which showed that from November 9 to 14, the peak water inflow at Magat Dam was at 7,128 cubic meters per second, but the dam released only at 6,706 cubic meters per second.