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16, not 10, mayors were missing at Ompong’s height

Not 10 but 16 mayors from the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions, two of the hardest-hit areas of Typhoon “Ompong,” were given five days to explain why they should not be sanctioned for negligence for being away from their posts during the critical hours of the storm.

In a TV interview, Interior Undersecretary for Peace and Order Bernardo Florece said they have already identified the 16 mayors but declined to divulge their names pending the results of an ongoing investigation.

“We started from 10 and when we validated, now we have 16—all mayors,” Florece said.

Florece said they will determine from their explanation if their absence was justifiable.

“If not, we can file the complaint either through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or the Ombudsman,” he said.

Penalties can range from a stern warning to dismissal from office.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government realized the mayors were not at their posts when they tried reaching them for updates and developments during the storm.

“These mayors were nowhere to be found,” Florece said.

Florece said they are also assessing the performance of all other local chief executives to look at best practices that can be shared with other mayors.

Before the storm struck, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had warned all mayors to be on site or face sanctions.

“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,” Año said.

If the mayor was out of the country on official travel, this would be a justifiable excuse, Año said.

Topics: Typhoon “Ompong" , Bernardo Florece , Sangguniang Panlalawigan , Ombudsman , Department of the Interior and Local Government
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