MALACAÑANG on Thursday, September 20, sought to impose "heftiest punishment" on mayors who will be proven negligent during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).

"Sang-ayon po tayo na dapat patawan ng pinakamabigat na parusa ‘yung mga mayor na missing in action sa panahon na pinaka-kinakailangan sila ng ating mga kababayan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a press conference.

(We agree that we should impose heftiest penalty to all mayors who are missing in action during times the public need them the most.)

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered on Tuesday, September 18, investigation on at least 10 municipal mayors in Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region who were allegedly "physically absent" while Ompong was battering their areas of jurisdiction over the weekend.

Local Government Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. said local chief executives who may be found liable for absenteeism and negligence of duty could face either suspension or dismissal from service.

Based on the DILG's Operation Listo protocols, local chief executives whose areas of jurisdiction fall under the alpha (low-risk areas), bravo (medium-risk areas) and charlie (high-risk areas) during typhoons are mandated to undertake necessary critical preparedness actions as part of disaster preparations.

Roque nevertheless assured the mayors under probe that they would be given fair trial.

"Binigyan po sila ng panahon na sumagot. I’m not sure if it’s five or 10 days pero ilang araw pa lang ang nakakalipas (They are given time to respond. I’m not sure if it’s five or 10 days but it's just been a day since the probe was ordered)," the Palace official said.

"They are being accorded their right to due process and the decision will be made thereafter," he added. (SunStar Philippines)