Emano no-show in DILG hearing-A A +A
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
CAGAYAN de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano failed to show up on the first day of a supposed marathon hearing set by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) at its regional office on Monday.
Only Emano’s legal counsel,Lawyer Francis U. Ku, attended the hearing.
Ku said Emano was not feeling well on Monday.
“I also advised him not to attend since it was only a preliminary hearing,” Yu told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
The media was not allowed to cover the preliminary hearing, which only lasted for an hour.
Emano was accused of negligence and dereliction of duty by complainants Dr. Vincent Tero, Raul Ramon Roa, Celestino Ocio, Teodulfo Lao and Enrico Salcedo of Save CDO Now Movement for defiance of the orders of government agencies which, according to them, resulted in the “unparalleled number of deaths and destruction” brought by Tropical Storm Sendong in December 2011.
Also supposed to be discussed in the hearing are the cases of the Pelaez Bridge painted with purple and Carmen Market versus Jacky Ching.
Ku said they are confident that Emano will win the case, citing that floods are acts of God.
“And even during the flood, the Oro Alert team also risked their lives to save other people. The magnitude of the flood is so big that even in Manila during Typoon Gener, they were also caught off guard,” he said.
Ku believed that the case filed against Emano is a “political persecution,” citing that he received the telegram the day after the late DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo was buried.
He claimed that even the order for the hearing did not come from the investigating committee but came directly from newly-installed DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
“It clearly showed that it is politically-motivated. In Iligan City, which was also affected by the flood, along with other areas in the country, no cases were filed against their mayors,” Ku said.
Lawyer Rannie Palisoc, hearing officer of DILG, said both parties were ordered to submit memorandum presenting their arguments and evidences.
“From their memorandum, the investigating committee will then promulgate the decision on the case,” Palisoc told reporters.
Ku said they are willing to submit their arguments through paper and they would include the investigation of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) during the incident.
Lawyer James Judith, legal counsel of the complainants, said they will just wait for the order from the investigating committee for them to submit the memorandum.
“Importante nga mapadali ang imbestigasyon that’s why we agreed to the request of the respondents to include Pagasa in the investigation. Pero bisan pa man, nakita namong pagmaniobra kini nila,” Judith said.
Earlier, Emano vowed to answer and face the cases filed against him.
“I have a feeling that in the entire country, ako ang una gilakag ug gilutos ni Sec. Mar. I received the telegram informing of the marathon hearing right after he took over as DILG chief,” he said.
Emano’s no-show in the hearing drew reactions from members of Save CDO Now Movement and Bangon Kagay-an.
Raul Ramon Roa of Save CDO viewed Emano’s absence as a delaying tactic of Atty. Ku.
“Emano is guilty that is why he is afraid to present himself during the preliminary hearing. But I am confident that we will win the battle against Emano since we have clear evidence of negligence and dereliction of duty,” Roa said.
He, however, said they will continue their fight against Emano until the end.
Nixon Baban, president of Bangon Kagay-an Inc., said there can never be justice without accountability.
“Yes, we can forgive but someone must remorse and must be ready to face the consequence of his actions or inaction. Then those who have perished during Sendong, would not have died in vain,” Baban said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Cagayan de Oro Chapter, meanwhile, condemned the barring of local reporters from covering the hearing.
In a statement, NUJP-CDO chapter chairperson Cong Corrales said two police officers armed with M16 rifles guarded the stairway leading to the conference room to deter media from covering the proceedings.
Palisoc said the “media block” order came from DILG Legal Service Director Jesus Duque IV, who was acting on direct orders from Roxas.
“The ‘limited space’ for the reason of Palisoc is flimsy and inane. The reporters present yesterday (Monday) were almost the same reporters present during the emergency Cabinet meeting of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the 2009 flash floods. Yes, Mr. DILG, nagkasya kami noon,” Corrales said.
He said everybody losses when the freedom of the press is stifled, as “we have witnessed during the Martial Law years.”
“We think it is ironic, to say the least, that the press is barred from covering an administrative case on transparency and accountability of local government. We challenge the public officials of the Interior: If you do not know what transparency and accountability is, resign! So, let me ask you Mr. DILG: ‘What transparency are you talking about?’” Corrales said.
Emano’s supporters, who were wearing purple shirts, came in full force outside the DILG regional office where the hearing was held.
Members of Save CDO Now Movement also came wearing yellow shirts and arm bands while members of Bangon Kagay-an were in red shirts, unmindful of the intermittent rain as they showed off different placards that read “stop greed” and “no to mining, one Sendong is enough.”
Later, supporters from both sides agreed to have their photo taken by the media.
A member of Bangon Kagay-an alleged that some of Emano’s supporters were forced to show up at the DILG and were given P20 as payment.
However, City Councilor Alexander Dacer denied this, saying Emano’s supporters came in their own will.
Some of Emano’s supporters from the different barangays in the city went to the venue onboard government-owned green multicabs, which were earlier donated by former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Some residents were overheard as saying that barangay halls were surely closed after village chiefs and the members of their councils came to the venue in full force.
Meanwhile, Emano has found an ally thru incumbent San Juan Representative Joseph Victor “JV” G. Ejercito.
Ejercito, who visited the city over the weekend, said in a press conference that Emano should be given a fair trial by the DILG.
He said the DILG should hear both sides of the story and hear the truth, setting aside “political affiliations.”
“I hope the appointment of Sec. Roxas will not expose the agenda of Liberal Party in ensuring powerful portfolios to partymates for his own ambition in the 2013 and 2016 elections. But in the case of Mayor Emano, Sec. Roxas should give him fair judgment,” Ejercito said.
Considering the party’s political agenda, he, however, said LP needs the hand of the DILG for its organization, which is composed of governors, mayors and barangay officials.
Ejercito will be running for a Senate slot under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), LP’s rival coalition and political affiliate of Emano’s Padayon Pilipino party.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 11, 2012.