It happened again, and it will happen again
By Al S. Mendoza
HERE we go again.
Floods have submerged many parts of Luzon by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses, as if the trio conspired to wreak havoc on this poor part of the globe.
Again, lives were lost, crops destroyed and houses and properties crumpled like accordions.
Again, roads were ravaged, bridges swept away and electric posts toppled like bowling pins.
Again, there was gnashing of teeth, wailing and cursing.
Any word from our officials, politicians?
The usual: They will bat, again, for probes—useless as they are—in Congress.
They will cite, again, illegal logging, quarrying and land grabbing as culprits in the deadliest floods in 45 years in Cagayan Province.
They will put to task, again, those who released waters in at least seven of Luzon’s biggest dams, in the process inundating many towns for hours, if not days.
The enormity of death and destruction:
Ulysses alone killed 73—24 in Cagayan, 17 in Calabarzon, 10 in Cordillera, 8 in Metro Manila, 8 in Bicol and 6 in Central Luzon.
The fatalities could be more as 19 are still missing and 24 injured.
The Department of Agriculture said crops destroyed amounted to P10.5 billion.
The Department of Public Works and Highways said infrastructure damage was P8 billion.
And, bizarrely, Marikina City lost homes, buildings and infrastructures to the tune of P30 billion.
“The lack of watersheds and catch basins and the unabated illegal activities in upper Marikina caused the massive Marikina flooding,” a politician said.
As if Marikenyos didn’t know.
For years now, Marikina’s watershed of 126,125 hectares spread in the Sierra Madre ranges have been subjected to Illegal logging, land-grabbing and quarrying.
What have Marikina’s politicians done all this time?
Was typhoon “Ondoy” of only a while back not enough of a wake-up call for Marikina aldermen to act?
Of course, not.
Since when are Congress occupants bothered by their conscience?
Look, they know that while dams are vital allies of the people—and the government as well—they are also aware that these same dams—damn it—can be deadly, destructive and veritable monsters when mishandled, under-controlled.
It needed three successive typhoons to remind us of that cruel truth once again.
Amid their fury, the surging waters in the dams of Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Ambuklao, Binga, San Roque and Magat were released, wantonly flooding Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Benguet, Cagayan, Isabela and many other parts of Central Luzon.
In Magat Dam alone, 7 gates were opened, unleashing 6,244 cubic meters of water per second. Deadly as it can be.
I remember suggesting here not too long ago: Since human life is at stake, the president of the Philippines should have the final say on whether a dam’s gate is opened or not.
I also said that reservoirs be built around dams, and in their neighboring barangays maybe, to serve as catch basins when dam water is released.
That way, such waters may be used for irrigation or watering flora and fauna when water is scarce in the summer months.
I’ll be damned.
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