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Senate, House to probe massive Luzon flooding from recent typhoons

The Senate and the House of Representatives both plan to conduct separate legislative investigations of the massive flooding in parts of Luzon in the wake of typhoons Quinta (Molave), Rolly (Goni), and Ulysses (Vamco).

On Monday, November 16, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr filed Senate Resolution no. 570, urging his colleagues to launch a probe. During the Senate’s plenary session, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Joel Villanueva supported the proposal and sought to be made its co-authors.

At the House, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano filed a similar proposal, House Resolution no. 1348.

Lawmakers from both chambers said there should have been measures in place so that dams in affected regions would not have had to release their overflow in a sudden deluge that devastated large communities downstream.

House lawmakers zeroed in on Magat Dam in the Cagayan Valley Region, where the spillover has submerged large swathes of Cagayan and Isabela provinces. 

House lawmakers plan “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.”

Besides Magat Dam, Revilla’s resolution mentioned the Ipo, Ambuklao, and Binga dams.

"We must anticipate that the dams will release water, so there should have been infrastructure in place into which the water would flow and gather, so that it does not inundate and devastate communities,” Revilla said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Lawmakers from both chambers said they would inquire as to what factors contributed to the massive flooding, and the failure to get people out of harm’s way.

The goal, they said, is to come up with a “comprehensive strategy” and measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

As of Sunday, November 15, at least 67 people were reported to have been killed because of Typhoon Ulysses, while 21 were injured and 13 were still missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Before that, Super Typhoon Rolly left at least 20 people dead, and Typhoon Quinta killed at least 9.

“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 a statement.

No date has been set for the House probe. The Senate, meanwhile, is in the thick of plenary debates on the proposed 2021 national budget, and the proposed investigation will likely have to wait until the budget bill is passed later in November. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.

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