by Herbie Gomez on Tuesday, 3 January 2012 at 18:42
NONE of Mayor Dongkoy Emano’s political enemies ordered Typhoon Sendong to come and cause the floods. Neither did they tell the mayor to be caught with his pants down.
If we hear his politicial enemies making noise, it’s because they are citizens and have a right to vent just like many angry Cagayanons.
City hall was virtually non-existent. It did not respond the way it should right after the floods. It ceased to properly function and people were practically left on their own for days. Until now, city hall has not been functioning normally––the roads are still either muddy or dusty and there’s uncollected trash everywhere.
I understand why city hall malfunctioned. It has long been programmed to move only when the mayor says so. Without his go-ahead, no city hall office moves. The problem was, the mayor didn’t see it coming despite the warnings from the environment department and the government’s weather bureau, and when it finally did, he was struck dumb.
In fairness to the mayor, who wouldn’t be dumbfounded given the trail of death and destruction that Sendong left behind? Ex-mayor Tinnex Jaraula was correct in saying that Sendong was “one of a kind.”
Still, city hall needed a leader and a good crisis manager. Dongkoy Emano simply wasn’t the man.
The effects of Sendong were overwhelming that the mayor stopped thinking clearly. The s@#$ hit the fan, Sendong exploded in his face and all of a sudden, the mayor did not know what to do. So everyone down the line, while waiting for orders, stopped moving. Simply put, Sendong made city hall stop functioning like a government.
This became very evident when the mayor ordered bodies dumped at the landfill. No one who thinks clearly would ever do such a horrific thing. For a moment, he attempted to pass the blame on to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He said the bodies were brought to the dumpsite because the NBI recommended it. The NBI, however, strongly denied it. But even then, assuming that the NBI had recommended something like that, the mayor could have said “No way!”
Realizing what he had done, he then said the bodies were not dumped but merely “transferred temporarily” to the landfill (what’s the difference?) because he was waiting for the National Power Corp. or the National Grid Corp. to agree into allowing its hangar at the Lumbia airport to be used to store all the unclaimed bodies. Mr. Mayor, do you really expect us to believe that it would take days for Napocor or the National Grid to decide on whether or not to allow the use of its hangar? In an emergency situation like that, all it takes is one phone call. But it looks like the mayor didn’t make that phone call the moment the funeral parlors stopped accepting more bodies. The Lumbia hangar, used in examining body parts retrieved from the Cebu Pacific Flight 387 crash site in February 1998, escaped Emano’s mind and no one who remembered had the courage to remind him about it. If Emano had thought about the Lumbia hangar, dogs and a flock of crows wouldn’t have waited for a chance to feed on human flesh at the city dump.
We-were-not-warned, my foot! Of course, you were warned, Mayor. City hall just didn’t listen (or refused to listen) when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told you and your ilk to get people out of harm’s way. In 2009, DENR sent a letter to city hall and identified the dangerous places: Cala-cala, Biasong, Upper Balulang, and portions of Tibasak and Consolacion. These are the areas hit hard by Sendong. What did city hall do? Nothing.
Last September, the DENR once again called city hall’s attention because of a warning from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Emano was told that Pagasa was expecting “stronger typhoons” to make landfall from September to December 2011. Reads part of the letter addressed to Mayor Emano: “These typhoons will most likely bring about heavy precipitation with possible adverse impact on local population and private and public infrastructure.” What did Emano do? Nothing.
Where is Mayor Emano and exactly what is he doing now? I have seen photos of him striking poses on separate occasions with visiting celebrities like Willie Revillame and Shalani Soledad and her boyfriend who came to help. He seems to be enjoying all the attention he has been getting the past few days––and the photo opportunities, too.
Weeks after Sendong and the floods, city hall remains disorderly. Dr. Prospero de Vera, vice president for public affairs and director of the University of the Philippines’ National Center for Public Administration and Governance Center for Policy and Executive Development, hit the nail on the head when he said the efficiency of the Iligan government under Mayor Lawrence Cruz was a big contrast to Cagayan de Oro’s disorganized government that blocked efforts to help from concerned groups. De Vera said, “Cagayan de Oro is in shambles because of the local government.”
City hall failed even in the simple task of providing a center to ensure coordination of the relief operations by various groups. We are thankful to Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma for taking the initiative to set up this center last week. The bishop did what Mayor Emano should have done the morning after Sendong hit the city. City hall left the volunteers, like the survivors in evacuation centers, on their own. The volunteers filled the gap.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello writes in the Inquirer: “Local government makes a difference. The contrast is made between Dumaguete and Cagayan de Oro. In Dumaguete, one DILG official observed, community leaders and organizations were mobilized to meet the oncoming storm after Pagasa issued its warnings, while only few local officials were alerted for action in Cagayan de Oro City. Indeed, in the aftermath of the catastrophe, so hapless is the Cagayan de Oro city government that civil society organizations have filled the vacuum in the rescue and relief efforts. At the center of this effort is Xavier University, where we saw goods pouring in from other parts of the country as well as from international organizations being received and distributed by an impressive, well-organized effort involving hundreds of volunteers.”
It’s interesting to note that neither de Vera nor Bello are Emano’s political enemies. Therefore, their views are not tainted by partisan politics. De Vera and Bello have seen what many Cagayanons, including the mayor’s political enemies and political allies (even some relatives), are seeing. Everyone can see the truth that Emano has become irrelevant and is no longer fit to lead.
Can’t you see, Mayor? People, not just politicians from the other side of the fence, are mad. People are so mad that if the elections were held today, my pet dog (an askal) would probably have a chance of defeating Emano.
My friend Tito is not known to be actively involved in partisan politics in Cagayan de Oro. But since Sendong, he has been very vocal against the Emano administration. The following are excerpts from a post he shared with many of his friends:
- “For failure to implement measures to keep Cagayanons out of harm’s way, Sendongkoy out!
- “For abetting the settlement of Isla de Oro and other areas identified as flood-prone and unfit for human habitation, Sendongkoy out!
- “For failure to warn flood-prone area residents when Pagasa issued a typhoon warning, Sendongkoy out!
- “For failure to activate the city disaster management units on the first instance, Sendongkoy out!
- “For failure to call the city council to declare a state of calamity on the first instance, Sendongkoy out!
- “For failure to oversee the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the affected residents, Sendongkoy out!
- “For abrogating to the national government the role of the city chief executive, Sendongkoy out!
- “For the decision to place the exposed bodies of the victims at the landfill, Sendongkoy out!
- “For insisting on his ‘kapit sa patalim’ doctrine in the presence of the President and national officials which has resulted to hundreds of casualties, thousands of evacuees and billions in damages, Sendongkoy out!
- “The list is endless… but having this kind of a mayor is the highest form of calamity our city has ever experienced… Sendongkoy out now!”
Partisan politics? I don’t think so. The reactions are spontaneous. People are empowering themselves to end the inutile Emano dynasty. This typhoon has been battering Cagayan de Oro since 1998!