MIRRORING events after Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ hit the country in November 2013, the provincial police chief of Benguet was sacked by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento on Wednesday for the substantial number of deaths due to Typhoon ‘‘Lando.’’
Sr. Supt David Lacdan, provincial director of Benguet was ordered relieved by PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez on the instruction of Sarmiento, over the high casualty rate in Benguet.
“I asked the PNP chief to relieve the Benguet provincial director for the big number of casualties,” Sarmiento admitted, adding that he was disappointed at the supposed lack of preparation by police authorities to soften the effects of Lando.
“There were preparations that were undertaken, but they were not enough. The job of the police is to serve and protect,” he added.
Sarmiento claimed that Lacdan did not follow the instruction of the national government to evacuate people to safer and higher grounds when Lando hit the country last Sunday.
Days before Lando made a landfall at Casiguran, Aurora, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council adviced local officials to conduct preemptive evacuations of residents in low lying and flood and landslide prone areas.
“We warned them that the rain will be long and that because of the terrain, it is possible that there will be landslides,” Sarmiento said.
This developed as police officers in Camp Crame and even military personnel voiced disgust over the sacking of Lacdan, saying the moved was improper because Lacdan did everything he could short of stopping a natural disaster.
The case of Lacdan was similar to the circumstances behind the relieved of Eastern Visayas regional director Chief Supt. Elmer Soria in the aftermath of Yolanda that struck in the region in January 25, 2013 that resulted in the death of tens of thousands residents.
It was Soria who projected that the deaths in Yolanda’s devastation could reach 10,000 after President Benigno Aquino III told Christian Amanpour of CNN that the death toll would only be in the hundreds. The official death toll was later pegged at 7,000.
But Soria was later reinstated after the interior depatment acknowledged that he had a good record as regional police chief.