Zarate: Rap missing mayors during Ompong onslaught

By Ellson Quismorio

Charge them.

Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate made this call against the 10 or so mayors up north who went "missing in action" (MIA) at the height of typhoon Ompong's onslaught in that part of the country.

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN) Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate
(Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

"Yan ang mga dapat kasuhan. Panahon ng kalamidad, nasaan kayo? (They are the ones who should be charged. Where were you during that time of calamity?)" the militant lawmaker said in an interview.

"Panagutan nila yan sa bayan lalo na kung namasyal-masyal lang yan sa panahon ng bagyo (They should be held accountable to the people especially if they just travelled for leisure during the storm)," added Zarate, who is part of the House opposition.

Reports said at least 10 municipal mayors from Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were MIA over the weekend, or when Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) and its maximum sustained winds of 170 kilometers per hour roughed up certain parts of Luzon.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is now verifying these reports even as Malacañang through Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that the missing local chief executives ought to be fired.

If anything, Zarate said the disappearing mayors will ultimately get judged by their constituents next year during the conduct of the midterm elections.

"Kung hindi man nila panagutan yan sa regular na korte, siguradong magiging electoral issue yan (If they aren't held accountable before a regular court, they will surely deal with it as an electoral issue)," he said.

Speaking of Malacañang, House Committee on Natural Resources chairman, Cebu City 2nd district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa has responded to President Rodrigo Duterte's call for Congress to repeal the Philippine Mining Act by directing a review of all pending and existing legislation about the impact of the mining industry.

President Duterte made the appeal after learning of Ompong's effects on Itogon, Benguet, where a landslide has claimed the lives of nearly 50 miners. Itogon is a mining town.

During the post-disaster meeting in the province last Monday, Duterte was quoted as saying "If we cannot end mining because of the law, to end mining...Congress will have to abrogate the law."

Abellanosa has tasked the secretariat to work closely with him in studying all appropriate legislative actions. He is also seeking immediate audience with House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to discuss the matter. (Ellson A. Quismorio)