– For ‘Ulysses’ victims
HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Tuesday donated relief goods and other essential items to two Isabela solons as more lawmakers sought to investigate in aid of legislation the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, turned over the goods to Isabela 4th District Rep. Alyssa Sheena Tan and Isabela 6th District Rep. Faustino “Inno” Dy to aid their constituents battered by Typhoon Ulysses.
“Let us be the source of inspiration and strength of our distressed kababayans during these trying times,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
As a way of celebrating his 57th birthday last Saturday, Romualdez extended on Monday afternoon the same assistance to the fund drive of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for victims of the recent typhoons by donating sacks of rice, boxes of canned goods and cup noodles, solar lights, face shields, and face towels.
Romualdez also turned over Monday afternoon relief goods and other essentials to Catanduanes Rep. Hector Sanchez, Cagayan Rep. Samantha Louise Vargas Alfonso, Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo whose districts were also hit by the recent typhoons.
Velasco, together with Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, on Monday filed House Resolution 1348 directing the appropriate committee to immediately conduct the probe.
“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.
In calling for a legislative inquiry, the three House leaders cited 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 congressional leaders specifically wanted the House to probe the circumstances surrounding the rapid inflow of water into the reservoir, as well as any non-compliance with laws, rules or regulations that may have had a contributory effect to the swelling of Cagayan River.
They also wanted the chamber to look into the decision of the National Irrigation Administration to open the spillway gates of Magat Dam, and if such action was done in accordance with duly established guidelines and protocols.
Given the circumstances and the predicted Category-4 strength of the typhoon, the House leaders said the forecast should have prompted concerned government agencies and local government units to take necessary preemptive action to mitigate possible adverse effects on local communities.
In a related development, House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera called for a congressional inquiry into what she branded as the “untimely and irresponsible” opening of floodgates of dams and watersheds in Luzon during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
Herrera said she also wants the House of Representatives to look into the alleged illegal logging and quarrying activities in the Marikina watershed, which may have caused massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces at the height of Ulysses.
“There is a need to conduct an investigation to determine the accountability of dam operators in the casualties that took the lives and livelihood of many Filipinos,” Herrera said in a resolution she filed on Monday.
Typhoon Ulysses, the 21st typhoon to hit the country this year, brought rainfall ranging from 271 millimeters to 356 millimeters of rainfall, far below that brought by Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009 of 455 millimeters of rainfall.
As of Nov. 15, the official death toll of Typhoon Ulysses climbed to 67, with dozens more injured or missing. To date, damages to agriculture and infrastructure was pegged at more than P1.5 billion.
Although the typhoon brought significant rainfall, Herrera noted that much of the flooding was further aggravated by the opening of six dams—Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Ambulao, Binga, San Roque and Magat.
Herrera said the opening of these dams intensified flashfloods in Metro Manila and the provinces of Isabela, Pangasinan, Benguet, Isabela and Cagayan.
She said there were numerous reports that the six dams released water “not in a gradual manner, but rather in a hasty and rushed manner.”
“For Magat dam alone, on November 12, 2020, the dam opened seven gates, discharging 6,244 cubic meters of water per second,” Herrera pointed out.