MANILA (UPDATE) - Submerged provinces Cagayan and Isabela need food and medicine, officials said Sunday as flood water start to recede, albeit at a slow pace, after Typhoon Ulysses inundated large swaths of Luzon.
At least 67 were killed in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses' destruction, according to national disaster officials. Nine deaths were reported in Cagayan, its governor Manuel Mamba earlier said.
Floods are subsiding but it still reached 12.2 meters as of Sunday, said Ascio Macalan, head of Cagayan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.
Authorities will shift to relief operations Sunday after conducting rescue operations since Thursday, Macalan said. Some residents had refused to leave their homes before flood waters rose, he said.
"'Yun nga ang problema natin dahil yung mga tao, kahit pilitin mong ilikas sila, ganun pa rin, nananatili pa rin sa bubong ng kanilang bahay. 'Yan ang dapat na ugaling mabago sa panahon ngayon dahil... kaligtasan mo muna ang importante. Sa bandang huli, tatawag din yan eh," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(That's our problem because even if you force them to evacuate, they will still remain on their houses' rooftop. That kind of thinking should be changed, they should prioritize their safety. In the end, they will call for rescue.)
The same happened in Isabela province, said its governor Rodito Albano.
"Dito, malakas ang panalangin nila na hindi aabutin ang bubong ng bahay, kaya mas gusto nila sa bubong ng bahay. Ang nirereklamo nila, hindi mabilis ang pagdating ng pagkain, dito sa'min ganyan din ang reklamo," he said. "Ayaw lang nila iwanan ang gamit nila kasi baka manakaw."
(Here, they pray that the floods won't reach their rooftops so they prefer to stay there. They complain that food doesn't reach them immediately. They just don't want to leave their belongings because they of being robbed.)
NO ONE TO BLAME
Albano, meantime, said no one was to blame for the province's worst flooding in 42 years except for the typhoon as Mamba said residents have called for a lawsuit against the Magat Dam management.
"Wala tayong ibang masisisi rito kundi ang bagyo, kasi yun ang nagdala ng volume ng ulan dito. At saka, hindi na po panahon ng sisishan dito."
(We can't blame anyone else except the typhoon because it's what brought the volume of rain. And it's not the time to blame each other.)
"Wala tayong dapat sisihin dito, kasi na-overwhelm talaga lahat, local governments and national government, kasi hindi natin akalain na ganito."
(We shouldn't blame anyone because everyone was overwhelmed, local and national government alike, because we did not expect this.)
Mamba earlier said residents were warned but the volume of water that descended onto the province was "unprecedented" and the worst in 4 decades.
"I think this is also caused by the management of their watershed dahil pag dumating na yung tubig, kaagad-agad nire-release nang maramihan din. I think pati ang watershed nila dyan inabuso din po nila kaya we are suffering because of that. We don’t get any advantage for any drop of water dyan," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo in a separate interview, referring to Magat Dam located in Isabela.
(I think this is also caused by the management of their watershed because when water arrives, they release it immediately. I think their watershed is abused and we are suffering because of that.)
"Masakit po ang loob namin dyan. But I think, kapabayaan po lahat ng ito at abuso sa inang kalikasan ito. And now, we are suffering. I hope this will be a lesson to have a holistic approach on how to solve our problem," he added.
(It hurts us but I think everyone is liable for this and the abuse of mother nature, and now we are suffering.)
Albano, meantime, called for the creation of the Department of Water as studies have been conducted to dredge and desilt Cagayan River but has yet to be implemented.
"May study na rito, tsaka may ginawa rin ang NEDA way back 1992. 'Di lang na-implement kasi ayaw umutang ng tao," he said.
(A study has been conducted, and NEDA also did one way back in 1992. But it has yet to be implemented because no one wants to borrow money.)
"Hinihimok ko lang ang national government na sana gumawa ng Department of Water. Kung kailan mo kailangan ang tubig, tsaka wala; kung kailan mo di kailangan, dun dumating."
(I urge the national government to create a Department of Water. When you need water, it doesn't come; when you don't need it that's when it arrives.)