I have been following the developments in Cagayan de Oro closely after I left for work at the end of the Holiday season. And aside from the relief operations and rehabilitation work which have been rigorous in the aftermath of Typhoon Washi’s destruction, Kagay-anons are also up in arms against the local chief executive – who is blamed for not doing what he could have done to have saved more lives and minimized the damage to the city.
Already the battleground is cyberspace, where contending parties have created their own groups and slogans to attract more and more Kagay-anons online. On the one hand, you have groups like Mata Na (Awake) CDO, Save CDO Now, and Bangon (Arise) Kagay-an leading the crusade against Mayor Vicente Yap Emano. All in all, these groups have 10,000-12,000 members who also go beyond cyberspace and around the city to collect signatures in calling for a recall of the city mayor. As of the last count, these groups have gathered around 25,000 signatures, just 20,000 shy of making their petition satisfy the requirements set by law.
While these groups busy themselves online and out in the streets, there are also other groups which either disuade Kagay-anons from supporting the recall petition or verbally attack those who are active in the Anti-Emano discussion groups. Several fake Facebook accounts have been identified and reported after the persons behind these “personalities” were checked and found to be fictitious.
Pro-Emano groups have also resorted to using media organizations which have been known to favor the local chief executive. The reporters of one radio station are alleged to have been going around the city and asking people: “Recall or relief goods?” Of course, if your belongings have been washed away by the flood, you are bound to opt for the later than the former despite your anger against the local government for their ineptitude and lack of direction before, during and after the typhoon.
Just a few weeks ago, former Senator Ernesto Maceda also joined the fray by casting aspersions on the relief efforts conducted by national agencies and international humanitarian groups in Cagayan de Oro. Oddly though, the former legislator inserted some form of endorsement of a hotel which is owned by businessmen closely identified with the city mayor. He was probably billeted there during his stay in the city.
And then yesterday, Senator Chiz Escudero did not mince words when he criticized the groups behind the petition for recall of his political ally. In a story published in a local paper, the Senator said “Isang taon na man lang at puwede na hong palitan ulit ang mga opisyales dito kung yan ang gusto nyo (Just a year more and you can change your city officials here if that’s what you want).”
True enough, the elections are just around the corner and by May 2013, Kagay-anons can decide on Emano’s fate. Then again, I guess the good senator is not familiar with the flooding season in Cagayan de Oro.
Since 2008, massive flooding in the city has occured every last quarter of the year or first quarter of the following year. The first massive flood which struck several parts of the city after several decades struck on December 2008. It was followed by a massive flood in January 2009. The pattern stuck, so much so that my family would also keep themselves ready during these months of probability. I doubt though if Escudero knows that. Because if he does, he would have thought of the possibility of the city being struck by massive floods again by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2013. God forbid, if such floods happen and result to hundreds of dead Kagay-anons again and over a thousand missing, what would the good senator from Manila (or Sorsogon?) tell the people?
And this is where the disconnect lies.
In the days immediately after Washi struck Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and several other parts of the country, various groups in Manila have been trying to use the situation as an attack against the Aquino administration, the national government agencies and several political personalities in the Capital.
Probably that’s how things work in the Capital, where people are accustomed in demanding that President Aquino himself address their woes. And where some groups seem to pray for disasters, scandals and oddities to happen, just so they could use it to to demand something from the national government. Oddly though some of the issues and concerns forwarded to Malacanang’s door step are actually duties unperformed by the various mayors of the Metropolitan. By this convoluted view, the President of the Republic has been reduced as the Mayor of Metro Manila.
But we Kagay-anons couldn’t care less. What we want is accountability from our own local government. What we want is that they acknowledge what they could have done, what they failed to do and what they must do should a similar weather condition approach the city again. And where they are answerable to provisions of law for having failed to perform their duty to the people, then they should face the penalty provided.
We should make our local officials responsible to the people who placed them in their positions. If we do not make our local executives answerable to the people, why then do we have to elect a mayor, vice mayor, and all these councilors? If these local executives just pass the buck to Manila on everything that happens in their cities or municipalities, why don’t we just abolish these units altogether and just elect a Mayor of the Philippines?
Oh, I forgot, we actually already have one in Malacanang…