MANILA – Isabela Governor Rodolfo Albano III said Monday ABS-CBN News should have sent a crew to cover the impact of Typhoon Ulysses in the province amid delayed reporting of massive flooding that swamped hundreds of villages.
“Everybody was cut off here. Everyone going in and to Cagayan and Isabela na-cut off na sila (they were cut off). So how can we give you such information?” he told ANC.
“Sana kung meron kayong mga crews dito. ‘Yung crews nga ng ibang station pinalipad ko pa para tignan ‘yung damage dito sa Isabela and Cagayan.”
(If only you have a crew here. I allowed crew of other stations to conduct aerial inspection to check the damage in Isabela and Cagayan.)
Even the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Albano said, “was not aware of the situation.”
“Everybody was overwhelmed because this calamity, the last time it happened was in 1978,” he said, adding they were only able to get a complete picture of the devastation Saturday after conducting an aerial inspection.
But in a separate interview with ANC, NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said they were informed of the severe flooding that struck parts of Cagayan Valley.
“We were already aware of the flooding situation across the areas affected by Typhoon Ulysses,” he said.
In August, ABS-CBN shuttered its 53 regional television and radio station after the House Committee on Legislative Franchise denied the broadcaster’s application for a fresh 25-year franchise.
The governor’s brother, Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano, is the House panel’s vice chairperson.
Antonio, who earlier expressed support for ABS-CBN, was also among lawmakers who in a resounding 70-11 vote rejected the network’s franchise application in July.
In the absence of a congressional franchise, the ABS-CBN group of companies, which employed 11,000 workers, has stopped the operations of a number of its businesses, among them is TV Patrol Cagayan Valley, which is a major news source in the region.
On Sunday, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad also claimed that the media did not carry warnings in relation to Ulysses.
He said at one point, “Siguro ang learning ko ho is tatatawagan ko si [ABS-CBN reporter] Chiara [Zambrano], 'Pakikarga mo nga ito.’"
ABS-CBN News on its cable TV and digital platforms carried several stories on briefings and warnings from PAGASA days before Ulysses struck.