10 mayors charged for 'non-compliance' with road clearing order

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has filed administrative charges against 10 mayors for failing to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to clear roads of illegal obstructions.

Charged with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct before the Office of the Ombudsman were the mayors of Baco, Oriental Mindoro; Pili, Camarines Sur; Ginatilan, Cebu; Pagsanghan, Samar; Aurora and Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur; Sagay and Guinsiliban, Camuigin; Manticao, Misamis Oriental; and Caraga, Davao Oriental.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said this is just the first batch of cases filed before the Office of the Ombudsman after the 10 mayors failed to satisfactorily answer the show cause orders issued by the department.

“We will file the succeeding batches as soon as our lawyers have finished reviewing the validation reports and the corresponding answers by the mayors,” he said.

He urged the Office of the Ombudsman to immediately act on the cases filed by the DILG to prove to the public that the government is serious in returning all roads for the enjoyment and utilization of the public.

“We hope that the Ombudsman will act on our complaint with dispatch and urgency,” he said.

Año said the filing of cases is long overdue, as all local government units (LGUs) were given reasonable time to comply with Duterte's directive to reclaim all public roads that are being used for private ends, but the mayors showed negligence, dereliction of duty, and lack of cooperation.

“These first batch of mayors failed to perform their duty to clear their roads of obstructions, they did not develop or implement any displacement program or plan, they do not have any long-term rehabilitation and sustainability plan in place, and they failed to set up a feedback or grievance mechanism for their constituents; hence, we are compelled to seek their suspension from office,” he said.

"Hindi tayo nagbibiro noong sinabi natin na handa tayong sampahan sila ng kaso. We took, very seriously President Duterte's order for the DILG to lead the road clearing efforts and file cases to non-compliant LGUs, if need be," Año said.

Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address, ordered the DILG to lead in the road clearing operations and suspend non-compliant local chief executives (LCEs). Subsequently, heeding the presidential directive, the DILG released Memorandum Circular 2019-121, directing LCEs to use all their powers under the law to reclaim public roads being used for private ends.

"These 10 LGUs have registered the lowest validation scores through the stringent nationwide evaluation and monitoring of the DILG. Hindi naman tayo nagkulang ng paalala sa mga pamahalaang lokal," said Duterte.

The DILG issued show cause orders last October to 97 LGUs across the country seeking their explanation for their non-compliance to the DILG's directive based on the assessment and validation conducted by the Department.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the department will soon issue a new directive for a new 75-day road-clearing operation.

“We noticed that some of the obstructions have returned and the LGUs have done nothing to stop their return especially during the holidays,” he said.

“We hope that all our mayors understand that this is now a policy of the government until the end of this administration. They will have to lead and do their responsibilities, otherwise they will face charges and the threat of suspension,” said Malaya.

“The challenge here is to sustain the gains of the road clearing last year for the long run so the Secretary will soon issue a new directive to ensure that all encroachments are permanently removed and that LGUs are vigilant in enforcing the law,” he added. (PR)