The Interior department on Wednesday threatened to impose the maximum penalty—dismissal from office—on mayors who were absent from their posts during the critical stages of Typhoon “Ompong.”
In this connection, a show cause order will be issued to at least 10 mayors who were reportedly not at their posts when the typhoon roared into their jurisdictions, said Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya.
The penalty will depend on the results of an ongoing investigation and on the explanations offered by the mayors, he said.
The DILG said the 10 mayors are from Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The DILG declined to disclose the names of the mayors, pending the results of the investigation.
“As mandated by the Local Government Code, the presence and support of mayors in their respective areas of jurisdictions is imperative for them to carry out measures to protect their constituents from the harmful effects of disasters and calamities,” he said.
Malaya said if the mayor was away on official travel, this would be a justifiable excuse.
Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said he issued no travel orders to any mayor days before Ompong hit the province.
In an interview with GMA-7, Mamba said none of the mayors, who were reportedly in Metro Manila, had asked him for a travel authority.
Had they applied, he added, he would have stopped them from traveling.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon hit the 10 mayors, who were reported missing in action during Ompong’s onslaught.
Lacson said the absence of the local executives would amount to negligence or insensitivity.
The mayors, Lacson said, should not have left their respective municipalities since authorities had warned of the strong typhoon before it hit the country.
He said the mayors could only leave their jurisdictions to attend to “life and death” matters outside their towns.
Drilon said the actions of the mayors represented gross neglect and said this should be sanctioned.
“Why are they here in Manila when their provinces and municipalities were being traversed by the typhoon? That to me is gross neglect and should be investigated,” he said.
Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, proposed that slots in the government’s conditional cash transfer program be reserved for victims of Ompong, which ravaged Northern Luzon.
Poe said at least 5 percent of the funded number of CCT beneficiaries per annum should be earmarked for victims of natural calamities like typhoons and floods.
Poe said automatically including typhoon victims in the list of the program will guarantee “regular and scheduled assistance” for calamity victims.