Senator Sonny Angara on Thursday said government should maintain its focus on helping the victims of Typhoon Ompong and leave to the people the dismissal of the 10 mayors who were reportedly missing in action during the typhoon’s onslaught.
“Kung sisibakin sila, tao magsisibak di ba? There’s such a thing called elections. Doon talaga sinisibak o reni-rehire ng publiko ang mgamayors nila,” Angara said in an interview.
“Focus muna natin na tulungan ang mga tao kesa naman maninisi tayo (Let’s focus first in helping the people rather than finger-pointing). I think the most urgent concern now is how we can help the victims of Typhoon Ompong,” he added.
The senator made the statement after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) threatened to impose the maximum penalty – dismissal from office – on the erring local chief executives. The 10 mayors are from Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The DILG said investigations are already underway and the penalty would depend on the results of the probe and on their respective explanations.
When asked to comment on the DILG probe, Angara said he does not want to “prejudge” anything.
“I don’t want to prejudge it. I can’t comment on that because I don’t know the real situation,” he said.
Angara, however, said the DILG could file administrative cases against the concerned mayors after being afforded due process.
“They can suspend them, depends on the reason,” he said.
Angara’s statements were in stark contrast from his colleagues’ earlier statements who slammed the “MIA” mayors.
On Wednesday, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the absence of the local executives would amount to “negligence or insensitivity.”
“The mayors should not have left their respective municipalities since authorities had warned of the strong typhoon before it hit the country. They could only leave their jurisdictions to attend to ‘life and death’ matters outside their towns,” Lacson said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the actions of the mayors represented “gross neglect” and they 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. (PNA)