NIA ready for probe to explain opening Magat Dam during ''Ulysses''
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Wednesday said they are ready to face a probe over the opening of Magat Dam during Typhoon ''Ulysses'' which is being pointed out as the cause of massive flooding in the Cagayan region.
During the Laging Handa virtual briefing, NIA Administrator Ricardo Visayas said they are ready for any investigation to show that the actions taken by the reservoir dam division of Magat is well documented.
“(Investigation) is a good thing. We want that so that this incident will not happen again… this is an opportunity for us to review everything,” said Visaya, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.
“We are ready to show what we did because that is really well documented, the actions taken by our reservoir dam division in Magat,” he said.
On calls that the NIA should face charges of criminal incompetence, Visaya said he was kept in touch with the project manager in the Magat reservoir irrigation system and all updates he received are being passed to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) officials.
Asked about the proposal of allowing the NDRRMC to decide on opening dams in time of calamity, Visaya said they are studying the proposal.
“If you will look at the mission of NDRRMC, it’s their mandate. That’s why we are studying it before giving our recommendation. The first thing we should do is to review the protocol,” Visaya said.
He said if they find it is better to transfer the authority to NDRRMC, it will not be a problem.
NIA is being criticized for opening seven gates of Magat Dam during Typhoon ''Ulysses'' which caused the swelling of Cagayan River but according to Visaya, since 2006, the protocol on opening of dams comes from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
“They will inform us that we need to release water? and that is about two to three days. That is what is written in the protocol, before the typhoon comes. So you can see?despite the documents we presented, despite the local chief executives saying they received our advisory on November 9, still people don't believe us… We followed the protocol,” he said.
Visaya said the review on the protocol is ongoing after the incident.
As of 10am, he said the water level of Magat Dam is now at 191.93 meters above sea level but because of the inflow from the eight tributaries, one gate is still open and they are releasing about 646 cubic meters per second.
Visaya appealed to the public to stop blaming persons as this is the time for unity and cooperation. Ella Dionisio/DMS