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Cagayan residents want to sue Magat Dam for yearly floods -governor

A day after Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro threatened to sue the Angat Dam's management for the record-breaking floods that swept the city, the governor of Cagayan on Saturday said that his constituents, too, apparently want to do a similar thing with the Magat Dam.

In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Governor Manuel Mamba said over the years, people have repeatedly come up to him urging him to bring the Magat Dam management to court for the yearly floods hitting the northern Luzon province.

He said calls for a lawsuit were once again revived after the onslaught of Ulysses left his province "underwater," killing nine and trapping residents on their rooftops with no sufficient rescue in sight as their roads have been rendered inaccessible.

"Minsan ang tao sa Cagayan, gusto nila magkaron ng lawsuit against them [Magat Dam] for damages dahil wala naman kami nakikita [na benepisyo sa amin] sa Magat Dam o kahit ano, yet we suffer the flooding woes from the Magat Dam every year," said Mamba.

Mamba said his province reaps no benefit from the Magat Dam since irrigation water  from the dam all flow through Isabela and not Cagayan.

"Ang Magat Dam kahit isang ektarya, walang nai-irrigate sa Cagayan. Iyong 80,000 hectares [na nai-irrigate] is all part of Isabela [pero] ang nagsu-suffer po ay Cagayan," said Mamba.

Mamba blamed the dam's deteriorating watershed for the deluge that ravaged Cagayan and nearby provinces.

"May kaunting pagkukulang rin po naman siguro sila kasi sa tingin ko hindi dapat biglaan naman [ang pagtaas ng tubig]. Dahil kung maganda po ang watershed nila, I don't think kahit maraming ulan, hindi po biglaan din ang dating ng tubig sa dam, if you have a good watershed and maho-hold naman niya ang tubig," he said.

The governor said a watershed in good condition would allow the dam to release water gradually.

Asked if he would heed the call of his constituents to press charges against the dam's management, Mamba said: "Hindi naman po."

But the governor said he understood where his fellow Cagayan residents are coming from. "Hindi po natin matatanggal sa kanila iyon kasi naaagrabyado kami. We do not get anything from Magat except that our neighbors are much much richer than us. Kaya sana makita naman nila iyon."

He said apart from Cagayan, neighboring provinces of Kalinga and Apayao are also suffering from floods whenever the Magat Dam releases water.

He also appealed for regreening efforts in their neighboring areas which he said have already been deforested.

"Siguro tulungan din kami sa aming regreening dahil sa totoo lang lahat naman po ng tubig nila diyan na sobra sobra dahil po sa kalbo na ang mountain areas nila diyan. Kami rin naman po ang pupuntahan ng tubig na iyan," he said.

"We want to play leader and initiator of environrmental protection. I hope they see what we suffer from," he added.

On Friday, Marikina Mayor Teodoro said he will sue the Angat Dam management for the alleged negligence when it failed to inform the city that it was releasing water due to the rains brought by Ulysses during its onslaught on Luzon. -MDM, GMA News