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Senate eyes own flooding probe

To mitigate if not totally avoid the effects of natural disasters, Senator Cynthia A. Villar on Wednesday sought a Senate investigation on the causes of extreme flooding following the recent typhoons that ravaged Metro Manila and most of Luzon.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 581, Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, wants to inquire into the alleged denuded state of our forests and watersheds.

She also asked the appropriate Senate committee to probe the apparent heavy siltation on rivers and tributaries, which largely contributed to the massive flooding in Luzon during the onslaught of the recent typhoons, particularly Ulysses.

The investigation, Villar said, intends to boost the protection and conservation of the country’s forest cover and waterways that would help thwart the results of disastrous calamities.

“Whereas, science has taught us that the forests and watersheds should be kept healthy and protected and that deforestation should be avoided so that abundant forest trees could help forest soil absorb and retain rainwater thereby naturally regulating the release of rainwater from hills and mountains and serving as natural protection to the adverse impacts of natural disasters such as heavy rainfalls during typhoons and extreme flooding,” read Villar’s resolution.

It also pointed out that deforestation, which is caused by illegal logging, quarrying, unregulated and open—pit mining and slash-and-burn agriculture, among others, continues to threaten the forest cover of the country. Villar said this resulted in reduced protection from the effects of natural disasters.

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos yesterday called for better water management and administration in the country which, she noted, is fragmented at the moment.

Marcos, author of Senate Resolution No. 573 directing the Senate Committee on Public Works to conduct an inquiry into the alleged man-made disaster following the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, believed that the recent flooding is an infrastructure issue.

She said dams such as the one that would have expanded an additional 100,000 hectares of irrigated land in Cagayan, the Paranaque Spillway and the Marikina Floodway were never completed.

“We have no one to blame but ourselves because we did not follow the plan,” said Marcos during yesterday’s hearing of the Senate public works and highway chaired by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

In the same hearing, Sen. Grace Poe pushed for the approval of Senate Bill No. 579 or the bill providing for the management, control, regulation, and utilization of rainwater runoff

Poe said water service interruptions in Metro Manila and other cities during the dry season and the worsening flood incidents in the rainy season are proof that there is a failure in managing this key resource.

Sen. Miguel Zubiri wanted a holistic approach to address the flooding that hit the country recently.

Zubiri said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the DPWH, the Department of Science and Technology (through the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) and other agencies should be on board in finding solutions to the problem.

Villar asserted that the destruction of lives and properties caused by floods during the recent typhoons underscores the necessity to protect and conserve the country’s forests and watersheds.

She also cited the need to maintain our rivers and its tributaries in good condition and ensure that they are free from siltation, which measures appear to be the most effective ways of preventing destructive flooding.

Due to the geographical location of the Philippines along the typhoon belt in the Pacific Ocean, the senator noted that an average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually.

“Whereas, just in the first half of November, four typhoons, namely, Typhoons Rolly, Siony, Tonyo and Ulysses, consecutively entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility, with typhoons Rolly and Ulysses severely hitting the country and causing a lot of damages in several areas in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, the Bicol Region, and even the National Capital Region,” Villar added.

Topics: Cynthia A. Villar , natural disasters , typhoon Ulysses , Imee Marcos
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