"That in itself is a tragedy."
President Duterte could not have arrived at a conclusion any other way, upon seeing for himself the tragic consequences resulting from the release of massive water from the Magat Dam in Cagayan Valley. This clearly showed how unprepared the country is against powerful natural disturbances such as typhoons.
I would not be surprised if he forms yet another Presidential inter-agency task force to unmask the culprits responsible for turning most parts of the province into an ocean of dirt water.
Those concerned, including officials of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), must explain why they should not be held liable criminally and administratively.
NIA officials, headed by former Armed Forces chief Ricardo Bisaya, blamed weather forecaster PAGASA for prompting the sudden release of water from the reservoir.
The residents also took the opportunity to tell the President about the unabated illegal logging that’s responsible for the denudation of the forests in the Cordilleras and Sierra Madre where much of the floodwater also comes from.
At least 27 people died in Cagayan Province alone during the onslaught of Ulysses which devastated northeastern and central Luzon, including Metro Manila, rendering Marikina underwater the way it was during Ondoy in 2009.
Ulysses did unleash powerful winds and excessive amounts of rainwater on Thursday, but it was the unexpected and unannounced release of massive water through Magat Dam’s seven gates that caught the people by surprise in the wee hours of Friday the 13th.
There had been no evacuation and the rains started to dissipate when the floodwater came rushing from Magat, engulfing houses six meters high.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said his constituents cannot be blamed for crying foul, demanding appropriate charges against the management of Magat Dam which also serves as a hydroelectric plant operated by the SN Aboitiz Power-Magat Inc.
Mamba told President Duterte this was the worst flooding his constituents have seen in 45 years.
It forced people, young and old, to climb atop their roofs to wait for rescuers for two days, crying for help in complete darkness.
Those nincompoops at NIA should have warned the local officials and the barangay officials about their plan to open all seven flood gates, which put thousands of lives in danger.
Ulysses left at least 69 people dead while southern Luzon, particularly Bicolandia, is still reeling from the wrath of typhoon Rolly.
The President ordered government agencies to release funds as soon as possible for relief assistance to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the calamity in Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Ifugao, Pampanga and other provinces.
I’ve been worried that after getting caught totally unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also going to be caught unprepared by natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons.
Then came this year’s typhoons, one after the other. And just yesterday morning, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook the coastal towns of Surigao del Sur.
We have too many government agencies to deal with disasters, particularly weather disturbances that visit us every year.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is supposed to lead as it is responsible for ensuring the protection and welfare of the people during disasters or emergencies.
Needless to say, we taxpayers shoulder the costs of operations and the salaries of the honchos of these agencies.
We almost always turn up unprepared. What a tragedy.