10 mayors face probe over Ompong response: DILG


Posted at Sep 18 2018 01:22 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2018 01:25 PM

Rescuers retrieve one of the bodies buried under tons of mud in Bgy. Ucab, Itogon Benguet on Monday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - At least 10 mayors who were allegedly missing in action during the onslaught of typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) over the weekend are facing investigation for negligence, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Tuesday.

"We are now doing a review of their performance and we are determining if there were indeed absent mayors when the typhoon came," DILG spokesman Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya told reporters.

"Local chief executives who will be found negligent will be held accountable," he added.

The DILG did not identify the local chief executives under investigation, but said they were from Cagayan Valley and the Cordilleras, which bore the brunt of the typhoon's fierce winds and rains.

Mangkhut, the world's strongest storm so far this year, swamped large tracts of farmlands in northern Luzon and unleashed landslides, leaving at least 74 dead and dozens missing.

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Among the fatalities were at least 39 residents in the mountain town of Itogon, Benguet where landslides hit several communities, including the bunkhouses of dozens of miners and their families.

While local officials claimed that they advised miners to flee to safer ground, there are no reports that they implemented a forced evacuation, said Edgar Allan Tabell, chief of the DILG Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center.

The DILG is revising protocols on moving civilians out of harm's way, especially in landslide-prone areas, said Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr.

Four or 5 more typhoons with the same or greater strength as Ompong are expected to hit the country this year, said Malaya, citing information from state weather bureau PAGASA.

Some 20,000 individuals remained in evacuation centers across the country on Tuesday, according to police figures.

-- With reports from Zhander Cayabyab and Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News