SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is willing to participate if there will be a deeper investigation necessary in Magat Dam’s water release that contributed to the flooding in the Cagayan Valley last month.
“I am willing to participate [in the investigation]. I want to know the truth; the guilty should be made accountable. If they are innocent, they have to be cleared),” he sai d, adding that an investigation should be aligned with the objectives of improving disaster resiliency of communities and building back better.
He emphasized the need for the national agencies and local government units (LGUs) to be well-coordinated in their efforts in mitigating and responding to the effects of disasters.
“Since flooding is a continuing occurrence, better planning should be made because we are not in control as to when a heavy rain comes. We have to balance the release of the water from the dams and the volume of rains. The national government and the affected LGUs should be well-coordinated,” Go said.
He stressed that if surrounding areas would still experience flooding despite the mitigating solutions, evacuation and relocation measures must be in place.
“The lives of every Filipino is important to me more than anything else. And if there is anything that we can contribute in order to avoid this kind of incident and save the lives of our countrymen from disaster, let us study this well and get it done,” he said.
In his recent interview after personally leading the distribution of emergency assistance to Typhoon “Ulysses” victims in Norzagaray, Bulacan, Go said President Rodrigo Duterte would hold anyone accountable if found responsible for irregularities surrounding the release of water from the dam.
“Kilala naman natin ang ating Pangulong Duterte. Kapag meron kang responsibilidad o ikaw ang may kasalanan, panagutan mo ‘yan. Kung ikaw, namuno at may nakitang iregularidad dahilan na may namatay, that’s your responsibility (We know our President Duterte. If you are guilty, you should answer for it. If you are the head [of an agency] and something happened and resulted in death, that is your responsibility),” said Go.
The senator, however, expressed his confidence in the judgment call of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) saying, “In fairness [to the] NIA, ako naman po ay naniniwala sa kanilang kakayahan. Kaya dapat well-coordinated with the local government units ito tuwing magpapakawala ng dam dahil sila ang nakakaalam sa mga residente (In fairness to NIA, I believe in their capability. Every time they have to release [water from the] dam, it has to be well-coordinated with the LGUs who know the [situation of the] residents).”
The NIA has remained firm in its position that the release of water from the Magat Dam was not the main cause of the massive flooding in Isabela and Cagayan provinces. They also clarified that they gave sufficient warnings about Typhoon Ulysses’ possible effects on the said areas.
Meanwhile, Go said he met with Region 2 Regional Development Council and Regional Peace and Order Council composed of provincial government officials to discuss efforts towards recovery, rehabilitation and building back better.
“During the meeting, Task Force head Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu promised after I have delivered my opening remarks where I appealed to them to hasten the rehabilitation, especially if another flooding is coming,” he said.