Recall petition vs Cagayan de Oro mayor gains ground, says proponent
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—The recall petition against Mayor Vicente Emano is gaining ground and a proponent of the move said he and his colleagues expected to gather 30,000 signatures by the end of the month.
At least 45,000 signatures are needed before the Commission on Elections acts on the petition for recall election, a process under which the elected official concerned must submit to a new election.
Tito Mora, vice chair of the Save CDO Now, said his group has gathered some 25,000 signatures since the drive was launched on January 13. He added they were aiming to have gathered 30,000 signatures by January 30.
“We aim to complete it before V-Day,” he said, referring to the day when the petition would be submitted to the Comelec.
As this developed, the Save CDO Now movement announced also that it has filed complaints for gross negligence and dereliction of duty against Emano at the regional office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Northern Mindanao. A copy of the complaint was sent to Malacañang, according to Mora.
Emano maintained that the recall move and the charges against him were baseless.
The recall petition and the complaints against Emano were prompted by the heavy toll taken by flash floods triggered last December 17 by the passage of Tropical Storm Sendong. Cagayan de Oro officials were allegedly remiss in taking measures to mitigate the effects of the storm, such as issuing warnings to affected population and ordering evacuation of threatened places.
At least 700 people were killed in Cagayan de Oro and dozens more remain missing to this day.
Lawyer James Judith, who filed the complaints at the DILG regional office here, said Emano’s inaction and defiance despite warnings from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geographical Services Administration resulted in the unprecedented death toll and destruction.
Judith said the death toll would have not been as high had the city government not abetted the settlement and illegal construction of houses on sandbars and delta in the Cagayan de Oro River.
Neric Acosta, presidential adviser on environmental protection, told a recent forum held at the Xavier University here that “it is wrong to give land titles on sandbars, where signs of danger are present.”
The complainants also alleged that when President Aquino came to the city and convened a meeting of the National Disaster Risks Reduction and Management Council, Emano did not brief the President on the coordinated efforts to help the victims.
The complaint also alleged that Emano did not convene the Local Disaster Risks Reduction and Management Council as required by Repubic Act 10121.
Judith said the complainants believed that had Emano performed his duties as mayor, the city could have prepared for and mitigated the effects of the disaster.
Emano downplayed the recall petition and the complaints filed against him, saying it was the work of “elitists.”
He said he found this out when he sent spies during the January 13 launching of the recall move.
“They are elitists and not poor thus they do not represent the city’s masses,” he said.
Mora said Emano was now trying to sow discord among the people by painting the movement as anti-poor.
“First he (Emano) said we were politicking. Now he says we’re elitists. The fact is, we only want Emano and the political principles he represents out of the office he has dishonored and degraded for 13 long years,” he said.