Not just mayors: Village chiefs under probe for Ompong absence

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2018 04:54 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2018 05:33 PM

Typhoon Ompong left a trail of destruction in northern Philippines over the weekend, as seen in these houses in Gattaran, Cagayan, September 16, 2018. Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Mayors are not the only ones under investigation for their supposed absence during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) over the weekend.

Village chiefs who were nowhere to be found during the typhoon onslaught in their villages are also now being investigated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Kapag nawala ka kapitan, mayroon kang criminal liability. Kapag may namatay, kasalanan mo 'yan dahil hindi mo tinupad ang trabaho mo,” DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño said Thursday.

(If you are a missing captain, you have criminal liability. If someone died, it's your fault because you did not fulfill your duties.)

Diño did not name the village chiefs for now but warned that if found guilty of being away from their villages in the face of a typhoon, criminal charges would be filed against them as prescribed in the local government code.

Bernardo Florece Jr., Interior Undersecretary for Peace and Order, earlier said 16 mayors, mostly from the Cagayan and Cordillera regions, would be investigated for their supposed absence during the typhoon onslaught.

A team from the DILG has already been formed to investigate identified village chiefs, Diño added.

Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the country so far this year, has left at least 88 people dead. 

In a village in Itogon, Benguet alone, at least 21 bodies have been retrieved from a landslide in a mining site. 

Authorities expect the death toll to rise as dozens more remain missing.

The typhoon also swamped fields in northern and central Luzon, areas that supply vegetables and rice to markets across Luzon.