Irrigation chief says protocol followed in Magat Dam; ready to face probe over Cagayan deluge

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2020 03:23 PM | Updated as of Nov 18 2020 08:34 PM

Screencap of a video with Magat Dam releasing water days after Typhoon Ulysses passed Luzon on Nov. 13, 2020. Cagayan PIO

MANILA — The head of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said Wednesday he was "okay" with calls for his resignation and ready to face investigations into the release of waters from a dam he oversees, which is blamed for the massive floods in Cagayan Valley.

NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said his agency notified local authorities before opening the spill gates of the Magat Dam while typhoon Ulysses lashed the northern region with fierce winds and heavy rains. 

"Nasunod [ang] protocol," he said in a government public briefing. 

(The protocol was followed.) 

The former army general said his critics had a right to file a charges against him. "It’s okay for me," he said. 

The actions taken by the agency are also "well documented," Visaya said. 

"Ready naman po kami na ano, na ipapakita namin iyong ginawa namin," he said of a looming House probe on the flooding that trapped residents on rooftops. 

(We are ready to show what we did.)

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Nonetheless, NIA is reviewing its protocols and is ready to relinquish its authority over dams to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), he said. 

"Kung makita natin na mas maganda na i-transfer natin iyong authority to release water from dams to NDRRMC, so be it. No problem po," Visaya said. 

(If we see that it's better to transfer the authority to release waters from dams to NDRRMC, so be it. There is no problem with that.)

At 10 a.m., Magat Dam's level was at 191.93 meters, below the spilling level. However, water inflow from 8 tributaries was still strong so one dam gate is open and releasing about 646 cubic meters per second, he said. 

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