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Mayors waited for disaster to happen?

Typhoon Sendong hits Cagayan de Oro

 
By Elson T. Elizaga
 

Cagayan River and Iponan River overflowed during typhoon Sendong and submerged a large part of Cagayan de Oro on Dec. 16 and 17, 2011. A community in sitio Calacala was wiped out. Five days later, 600 were recorded dead, and 500 missing. Most victims had lived along the rivers.

Public outrage ensued when mayor Vicente Y. Emano sent at least 79 bodies to the city garbage site. On Dec. 20, President Benigno Aquino III said "If anybody ever does that and put these deceased in a landfill, they will have to answer before the law.”

On Dec. 29, Goldstar Daily reported that geologists from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had warned former mayor Constantino Jaraula in 2009 and Emano in September 2011 that a disaster was waiting to happen in places identified as likely to be flooded. Emano claimed he had ordered people not to live near Cagayan River.

Letter of DENR to mayor Jaraula Letter of DENR to mayor Emano
Letter of DENR to mayor
Constantino Jaraula
Letter of DENR to mayor Vicente Emano


Irate Facebook users have set up Save CDO Now, Bangon Kagay-an, and Mata na CDO to discuss ways to help typhoon survivors, but these egroups became filled with criticisms against Emano and other officials. A group held a rally in divisoria and started a signature campaign to remove Emano. An underground "RADYO CDO" critical of Emano has been produced. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III filed a resolution on Jan. 6 to ask the Senate to investigate officials in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and other areas hit by typhoon Sendong.

No similar complaints and mass actions happened in Iligan City, which also suffered heavy casualties.

See initial report of the event in Mindanews, and the column of Antonio J. Montalvan II.


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© 2012 Elson T. Elizaga. Revised January 25, 2012.