Road-clearing violation raps puzzle mayors of 2 barely populated towns
MAMBAJAO, CAMIGUIN – The mayors of two towns in Camiguin province, facing suspension for allegedly failing to heed a road-clearing order by President Rodrigo Duterte, insisted they enforced the order and should not be penalized.
Mayors Helenia Abecia, of Guinsiliban town, and Joseph Uayan, of Sagay town, were among 10 local chief executives charged by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with failing to enforce the road-clearing directive.
The two mayors insisted they had faithfully heeded the order to clear roads of obstructions.
“We have not violated the order. We have implemented it,” said Abecia in an interview on Monday (Jan. 6).
“That’s why I was wondering why we are charged by the DILG,” Abecia said.
Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, in a statement on Sunday (Jan. 5), said the 10 mayors were charged with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct for failing to comply with the road-clearing order.
The order had given local governments 60 days to clear roads of all obstructions.
Abecia said Guinsilan was a town with a population of just 6,000 people and had no vendors or illegal structures on the streets. The only objects that could be considered obstructions, a basketball court and board on one side of a street, had already been removed, Abecia added.
Uayan said roads in Sagay town had been cleared as soon as the DILG office in Camiguin relayed the order to the local government.
The road-clearing work involved cutting tree branches that protruded into roads, towing a parked car and relocating a house built on a sidewalk, said Uayan.
A fifth class town of 12,386 people, Sagay town has only nine villages.
Uayan said there was no specific guidelines issued when the local government started the clearing operation.
The DILG provincial office instructed the municipal government to draft a road-clearing ordinance, rehab plan and conduct an inventory of roads with obstructions. Plans for those who would be displaced were also required.
But the list of to-dos had been given by DILG only after the municipal government was issued a show-cause order last November, asking officials to explain why they should not be charged with violating the road-clearing directive.
“The DILG gave us a template containing what we need to comply and we followed them all,” said Uayan.
“We submitted it and the DILG provincial office approved it,” he added.
Uayan said he found it hard to believe he was among the respondents when he heeded the DILG instructions.
The two mayors said they were ready to reply to the charges, though.
Edited by TSB
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