In order to ensure that mayors and other local chief executives (LCEs) will no longer be “missing in action” during typhoons and other disasters, all foreign travel authorities and leaves of absence of local government officials of affected localities are recalled during such emergencies or calamities, this is according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the DILG, as the approving authority for foreign travel authorities and leaves of absence of local government officials or employees, shall recall the issued travel authority in case of natural or man-made disaster and/or calamities.
“Secretary Eduardo M. Año has issued a Memorandum dated January 4, 2019, to Local Government Officials that their approved travel authorities and/or leave of absence are immediately recalled in case of disaster. As we are guided by law, we will exercise it to its full extent to ensure that local chief executives are where they are expected to be in times of disaster or calamities,” he said.
On Monday, the DILG endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman cases against five (5) Northern Luzon mayors who were absent from their posts during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong in September 2018 while six others were issued a written admonition after an investigation into their conduct was done by the department.
Malaya noted that based on the findings and recommendations of the DILG Central Office validation team, five mayors, whose explanations were found to be “inadequate and unjustified” and “whose acts probably violated existing laws, rules, and regulations,” will face administrative proceedings before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Those facing cases before the Ombudsman are the likes of Mayor Eduarte of Tayum, Abra; Mayor Luspian of Mankayan, Benguet; Mayor Chiyawan of Natonin, Mt. Province; Mayor Limmayog of Sadanga, Mt. Province; and Mayor Ruma of Rizal, Cagayan.
Those who were admonished or warned by the DILG Secretary are Mayor Seares of Dolores, Abra; Mayor Salazar of Lasam, Cagayan; Mayor Turingan of Enrile, Cagayan; Mayor Villacete of Piat, Cagayan; Mayor Carag of Solana, Cagayan; and Mayor Mamba of Tuao, Cagayan.
Under the Local Government Code, the provincial governor, city mayor, and municipal mayor should carry out emergency measures as may be necessary during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities.
“Local chief executives should be physically present in their respective stations especially during times of disasters. As chairpersons of their respective local disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) committees, they must personally oversee their local disaster management preparations and operations,” Malaya said.
In the memorandum dated January 4, 2019, Secretary Ano also directed that travel authorities and or leave of absences issued by the provincial governor to the following shall also be recalled in case of calamities or disasters:
1. component city mayors and municipal mayors;
2. sangguniang panlalawigan members whose chairmanship is peace and order and crisis management, DRRM, social welfare and development, and women, youth, children and IP; and
3. appropriate Department Heads such as Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer, among others.
In the same vein, the city or municipal mayor shall also recall the authority to travel or leave of absence of the following in case of disasters or calamities:
1. City vice mayor and municipal vice mayor;
2. Sangguniang panlungsod and bayan members whose chairmanship is peace and order and crisis management, DRRM, social welfare and development, and women, youth, children, and IP;
3. Appropriate Department Heads such as Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer, among other
“Public service must always be a priority. Sa panahong mas kailangan sila ng kanilang constituents, dapat ay nandoon sila para umalalay at gumabay,” Malaya said.
The DILG Secretary also enjoined all local chief executives (LCEs) to be guided by the Operation Listo Manual which prescribes the minimum early and critical preparations for mayors during hydro-meteorological hazards.
“As what is prescribed on DILG’s Operation Listo Manual, LCEs must be present before, during and after any disaster. Sundin at unawain po natin ang Manual at hindi po tayo maliligaw,” , Malaya added.