Not just Magat dam, but all massive water impoundment infrastructure that released water and triggered flooding in huge parts of Luzon will be included in the congressional investigation to be conducted starting next week by the House Committee on Agriculture.
Operators of Angat and Binga dams opened the gates to release excess water at the height of typhoon Ulysses, thereby, triggering floods in Rizal, Bulacan and parts of Central Luzon.
Several gates of Magat dam were also opened to allow spillage and avert destruction.
This also flooded Cagayan and Isabela provinces causing deaths and massive economic displacement among thousands of residents.
In a virtual press conference, Reps. Mark Enverga (NPC, Quezon) and Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon Partylist) said two House resolutions calling for investigation into the flooding caused by dams will be considered by the Committee on Agriculture chaired by Enverga.
Speaker Lord Alan Velasco,, along with Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. 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.
Herrera also filed a resolution proposing a House investigation but legislative inquiry will not only center on Magat but will include other dams.
Both Enverga and Herrera said dam operators should balance the need for government to address the water, agricultural and power requirements provided by dams as against the importance of ensuring that the safety levels of the dam are assured.
It was noted that around the middle of October, a month prior to the onslaught of Ulysses, Angat dam water level was below the safety level of ensuring sufficient water for agriculture, drinking and power during the summer months.
However, at around the same time, Magat dam level was already three meters away from spilling.
The two solons said a review of the protocols in the maintenance of water levels of the dam and the assurance of preventing breach or destruction of dams has become imperative.
“We communicated with the proper resource persons. We understand there were several constraints,” Enverga explained.
Enverga vowed to conduct a “clear, concise and factual hearing on this matter just to get to the bottom of this.”
Herrera said the purpose of the investigation was to find facts that could lead to corrective actions, not to find fault.
She told reporters 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.