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Emano blames flood victims
 
By Elson T. Elizaga
 

Unknown to many, city hall held an oratorical contest during the festive celebration of typhoon Sendong. The lone contestant was Vicente Emano who, some people believe, is the legitimate mayor of Cagayan de Oro.

A portion of the video of this speech is circulating online. Toastmasters, check this out: The video starts with Emano lying horizontal, talking to the floor but, defying the laws of physics, quickly rising counterclockwise to rebuke the crowd.

Emano said that he was incensed (“gikasilag ko”) by the criticism he received from survivors of Calacala and Isla de Oro. He said long before he became mayor, people had already settled in Isla de Oro. He said he didn’t have the heart to remove the poor because they had nowhere else to go.

Emano further claimed that Calacala residents met him 10 times and requested him to buy lots in Calacala, because they had been living there for a long period. During the first five visits, Emano explained Calacala was a “riverbed”, and that it could be flooded (“mahimong mabahaan”).

But with tears flowing, Calacala residents persistently begged Emano. So, on their 10th visit, Emano bought the lots. When the area was hit by typhoon Sendong, Emano claimed, the survivors then blamed the man who had helped them find a decent place to live in.

Interesting story but possibly fabricated. Such a dramatic episode in the life of Emano should not have escaped the attention of the media. But there is no report about the alleged 10 meetings. No press release even. And the numbers 5 and 10 are too convenient.

Even if the story is historical, no law requires an official to give in to the demands of his voters if they bring him buckets of tears. The first thing an elected official does after an honest or dishonest election – it doesn’t matter – is to take an oath to uphold the Constitution. He is not supposed to allow people to live in places fit for fish.

From all angles, Emano’s tale is an admission of guilt. He claims he had long known about the geological condition of Calacala. He knew it was going to be submerged anytime. He was also warned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, not only about Calacala, but Tibasak and similar sites. But look what he chose to happen.

Six thousand people dead, 555 missing, and 225 injured. About 75 bodies sent to the dump. But not a single apology from the omnipotent god of Cagayan. Instead, we see his minions singing and dancing on stage, and Emano blaming the victims for their misery.

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The first version of this article was published in Mindanao Goldstar Daily. In it I erroneously wrote 1,600 people died during typhoon Sendong. It’s 615, according to SENDong+AID, “the official website of the DSWD-Multi-Sectoral Relief Response Operation Center based in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.” The website also listed 555 missing and 225 injured in the city. But the Citizen’s Disaster Response Center states: “In Cagayan de Oro City, 891 people were confirmed dead ….”

Published January 8, 2013. Copyright © Elson T. Elizaga