Breakfast over ‘evacuations’

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By Nef Luczon


Thursday, December 6, 2012

WHEN typhoon “Pablo” is getting nearer by the second and the ominous red alert has been raised to initiate force evacuations and avoid casualties due to the natural calamity, just wait for it as breakfast has been served yet.

This was how acting police chief Sr. Supt. Antonio Montalba of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), respond when called up by a TV reporter as early as 7:00am Monday in a follow-up phone call on the supposed to be a “forced evacuation” operations in flood prone communities such as Tibasak and Cala-cala in Barangay Macasandig.

Almost 8:00a.m. and wait, his boys were still having a breakfast too, “pampadugang daw sa kusog.” Never mind if the rest of us journalists from different outlets herded so early without even thinking to have take our breakfast just to monitor the situation of a possible life-and-death scenario if the actual impact of the typhoon will reach Cagayan de Oro City at least by 9:00a.m., based on weather reports.


And so passed 9:00a.m., Montalba and his boys arrived in Tibasak but almost too late as local officials already initiated the forced evacuation of the remaining residents near the flood zone are. And if not also with the media’s persistence to move so, local officials would probably be still waiting for a hint when to act in an “urgent situation.”

Speaking of “urgent situation,” Montalba seems to disagree with that in a follow-up phone interview by the TV reporter prior to his actual arrival, in a way saying that “hindi man ito urgent.”

During the actual interview, he said they were already in the area since the other night to remind all residents to evacuate immediately and that he is not the actual point person in charge in this operation.

“I was just waiting for orders, and I just implement those orders,” he said during in an interview. But again, wait for it, when a reporter from a newspaper asked: “So you think this is not an extraordinary situation, and you think there is a failure of… (action)?”

We were met with an irked Montalba, replying with a raised voice “Hindi nga ako ang ground commander dito!”

Everything was recorded on tape, and it seems the breakfast he ate did not digest quickly to have such a bad mood in a stormy morning.

It is just sad though that as if Montalba never learned from the past “Sendong,” that whatever sinister happened in the height of “Pablo,” it will also affect his master. Think. Think. Think.

(Nef Luczon is a freelance journalist and a part-time communications instructor. He is also a film and art enthusiast. Send comments to

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 06, 2012.


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