Hontiveros seeks probe on human-made causes of ‘historic, extreme’ Ulysses flooding

Senator Risa Hontiveros filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 571 to investigate the man-made causes of the severe flooding in Cagayan, Rizal and Marikina City in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses to create policy that better prepares the country for future calamities.

She said this is an alarm that the country must ‘take the consequences of exploiting nature seriously’.

“About 1.7 million Filipinos, many of whom are young children and senior citizens, are displaced and affected. Even worse, is that this happened in the middle of a pandemic in which lapses in physical distancing can mean life or death,” she said.

Hontiveros pointed out ‘shocking’ images and audio recordings from Isabela and Cagayan Valley circulating on social media of residents calling for rescue amidst intense flooding caused after Magat Dam was opened.

“The audio recordings were chilling. The cries of our countrymen and women sounded like they were abandoned in the pits of hell.The devastation of those floods is on us,” she said.

“The floods swept away the lives and livelihood of millions without warning, which could have been avoided if the alarm was rung loudly before they opened the dam.”

“We need to study the gaps and fill them immediately. This can’t keep on happening. Especially now, the climate disasters in the middle of a pandemic have created unique problems never before seen in the country. It is our responsibility to take seriously the protection of nature, investigate human-made causes of flooding and drastically upgrade the country’s preparedness and response,” she said.

Hontiveros added that the exploitation of natural resources increased the vulnerability of the country to intense typhoons. According to conservation experts from Masungi Georeserve illegal logging and land-grabbing in the Upper Marikina Watershed and Sierra Madre despite legal protections under RA No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected System (NIPAS) could have caused the flooding, she said.

The logging massively diminished the capacity of the mountain range to buffer National Capital Region (NCR) and Rizal Province from the ravage of the strong typhoons.

“Alin dito ang talagang kasalanan natin? We need to know the answers immediately before the next typhoon hits. Natural calamities are beyond our control and can be unpredictable, but there are causes to the historic devastation of Typhoon Ulysses that could have been addressed,” she said.

“We are not new to natural disasters. Paulit-ulit ang kwento. Napapagod at nagagalit ang taumbayan, and rightly so. Let’s find out what is really causing this vicious cycle, and change the story once and for all,” she concluded.