Threat of landslides in Itogon, Benguet has forced the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to warn rescuers and residents as well as media members waiting for stories to dash to safer grounds.
The Office of Civil Defense in Cordillera said only 30 able-bodied rescuers would stay and continue the search for at least 57 people who remained trapped under the mud following a landslide last Saturday.
Powerful Typhoon “Ompong” whacked Northern Luzon with more than 200 kph winds and gustiness earlier this month, leaving an ugly trail of destruction and death in Cagayan Valley and the Cordilleras.
The warning came as the Department of the Interior and Local Government on Friday issued Show Cause Orders against 16 local chief executives who were reported to have been absent or missing during the typhoon’s onslaught.
DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said despite the reports of some absentee mayors, the vast majority of the mayors in Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley), and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) performed well.
“While some mayors were reportedly absent, we are glad that the vast majority of the mayors performed well in accordance with Oplan Listo. In fact, there were few casualties outside of Itogon, Benguet,” Malaya said.
He said Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, DILG officer-in-charge, signed the Show Cause Orders.
“The department has given the said mayors five days from receipt to comment and explain on the matter and inform the DILG on the actions their respective offices have undertaken with regard to the recent calamity that affected their areas,” he said.
Nine of the mayors are from Region 2, while seven are from the CAR.
In the Order issued to the 16 mayors, the DILG said it issued an advisory dated Sept. 14, 2018 for all mayors to be present in their respective areas once Ompong strikes to ensure immediate government response.
Officer-in-charge Secretary Eduardo Año also issued a statement, directing the mayors to be physically present in their respective local government units with the aim of “zero casualties.”
“Since they are elected public officials, we assure them that they will be given due process but if the investigation comes to the conclusion that they have been negligent or derelict in the performance of their duties, we will not hesitate to recommend appropriate sanctions against them,” Malaya said.
Under the Local Government Code, an elective local official may be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office for gross negligence, dereliction of duty, or misconduct in office.
He added under Republic Act 10121 (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010), the local chief executive is head of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and directly controls the DRRM Office of their respective LGUs.
The mayor also has the duty to carry out such emergency measures as may be necessary during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities under the Local Government Code.
The DILG also has Oplan Listo protocols that mayors are required to undertake before, during, and after any calamity.