Cagayan residents want to pursue charges vs Magat Dam operators: gov

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2020 10:28 AM | Updated as of Nov 17 2020 11:43 AM

Flood water remains between a cluster of houses from the rest of Anafunan East in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, with water levels ranging from knee to waist-deep, on November 16, 2020. Water levels during Typhoon Ulysses were higher than expected despite residents' history and preparedness for floods in the area. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News​

MANILA - Residents of Cagayan province want to pursue the filing of charges against operators of Magat Dam, governor Manuel Mamba said Tuesday.

Mamba earlier said the dam's water release, rainfall from nearby provinces, and a heavily-silted Cagayan River submerged the province and killed at least 9.

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"I want to prevent doing that because you know there is real clamor from people. I’m texted every now and then by people to pursue this. That’s why sinasabi ko nga po (I'm saying) there should be medium-term and long-term plans to mitigate or even prevent these things to happen and worsen," he told ANC's Headstart when asked on pursuing a complaint.

"We will have to study this with our legal team just to effect change and for them to come up with medium(-term plans)."

The governor said the dam management should ensure that its watershed was "well-kept" as flooding from the dam's water release affects Cagayan, which does not benefit from its irrigation nor power supply.

"Kasi hindi niyo ma-control ang pagdating ng tubig, hindi niyo rin ma-control ang pagrelease. Baka pumutok ang dam, 'yun lang po ang gusto namin maimbestigahan para kahit papaano po naman, we will not exacerbate 'yung paghihirap ng Cagayan na walang kapaki-pakinabang d'yan sa dam na 'yan," he said.

(You can't control the water coming in, you can't also control its release. The dam may break, that's what we want investigated so it will not exacerbate hardships Cagayan faces when it doesn't even benefit from the dam.)

"Since time immemorial, kami ang nahihirapan. Ayaw ho naming magkaso. Anong gagawin naming sa kaso? Di naman naming alam kung mananalo kami o hindi. Ang point lang po namin, you should also take partly the claim and it should be incumbent upon you to see to it that your watershed that supplies your dam is well-kept," he said.

(Since time immemorial, we have suffered. We did not want to sue. What will we do with the case? We don't know if we will win or not. Our point is that you should also take partly the claim and it should be incumbent upon you to see to it that your watershed that supplies your dam is well-kept.)

The National Irrigation Authority is revisiting its protocols, said dam and reservoir division manager Eduardo Ramos.

Ramos admitted that the dam's water release contributed to the worst flooding Cagayan has seen in 4 decades.

"Open kami for improvement pero ang ginagamit ngayon is pag nagrerelease kami sinusulat po lahat tsaka pag may increase in opening of gates, dine-disseminate po namin sa mga agency downstream po," he said.

(We're open for improvement but right now when we release water from dams we write to everyone and if there's an increase in the opening of gates, we disseminate it to agencies downstream.)

Releasing water from dams is a disaster-mitigation measure to prevent flashfloods, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The council said it was studying taking control of dams' water release following proposal from mayors.

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