CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/2 Feb) – With barely two months before the deadline for recalls on elected officials, Save CdO Movement pushed their recall initiative anew, calling the support of local cooperatives leaders in a forum on Sendong late afternoon Tuesday.
Save CdO Movement vice chair and spokesperson Tito Mora, in a forum dubbed “Quo Vadis,” said recall signing desk they installed outside St. Augustine Cathedral last Sunday generated more support.
The group, which started out as a virtual group in Facebook for Cagayanons demanding Mayor Vicente Emano’s accountability at the wake of the worst calamity to hit this city, has installed recall signing desks at Kiosko Kagawasan in the city’s DV Soria commercial area from 4-6pm since they filed the recall initiative at the Commission on Elections last month.
“We set the deadline for the signed recall sheets on February 14 since we have to review the accomplished recall forms first before submitting these to the Comelec En Banc on February 22 for a decision,” Mora said.
The forum cum action planning featured environmental and natural resources management expert Raoul Geollegue, environmental activist BenCyrus Ellorin of Task Force Macajalar and climate change advocate Red Constantino of the Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities as resource persons.
“Let us practice our power to recall an elected official…. We already have 10,000 signatures and some 20,000 have committed to sign our recall forms,” Mora told forum participants.
He pointed out that in the 2010 local elections, 284,000 city residents registered to vote. Under the Omnibus Election Code, Save CdO Movement will need to gather 25 per cent of the total number of registered voters, or 71,000.
He said that in the last elections, at least 100,000 did not vote for Emano. He said they only need to reach out to half of those voters and they can already initiate the recall process.
The move to recall Emano stemmed from the perceived snail-paced response of City Hall at the height of the devastation wrought by tropical storm Sendong late last year.
When asked to comment on the recall initiative against him, Emano said last Monday Mora’s group should “hurry up because March is fast approaching.”
Emano had chided Save CdO Movement earlier, saying he will even help in the recall initiative granting that both parties execute a covenant that whoever loses the snap polls as a result of the recall initiative will stop the political intramurals. The mayor added that the recall initiative has sown division among local residents and Sendong survivors, thus delaying the recovery and rehabilitation of the city.
In a separate phone interview Monday, Mora said they welcome Emano’s offer albeit with additional provisions.
“We welcome the offer for a covenant. But it should include a moratorium on mining, his promise not to put residents in harm’s way, his promise to be transparent in all of City Hall’s dealings and to put in the city’s website the codified city ordinances,” said Mora.
But Mora said they are confident they will be able to gather the required number of signatures in time.
“As of now, it is safe to say that we have gathered more than 10,000 signatures already. Last Sunday, we were able to gather additional six sheets of the recall forms. We had a desk just outside St. Augustine Cathedral,” he said.
Under the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160), registered voters of a local government unit has the power to recall its elective official for “loss of confidence.”
“Recall of any elective provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official may also be validly initiated upon petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of registered voters in the local government unit concerned during the election in which the local official sought to be recalled was elected,” Chapter V, Sec. 70 (d) of RA 7160 reads.
The Petition for Recall cited six points: “For his (Emano) failure to implement measures to keep our people out of harm’s way; For consenting to the settlement of Isla de Oro and other areas identified by DENR as flood-prone and unfit for human habitation; For his failure to act accordingly and warn and evacuate residents of flood-prone areas when PAGASA issued a weather advisory and typhoon warning; For his failure to activate the city disaster management units immediately; For his decision to place the recovered bodies at the city dump site; and For not taking greater responsibility in overseeing the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the affected residents.”
Mora said that their group is well aware of the machinations of the Emano camp even before the latter’s admission in an aired interview from a local radio station over the weekend.
Last Sunday, Emano admitted having sent “eyes and ears to monitor” during Save CdO Movement’s motorcade and recall initiative launching at Kiosko Kagawasan, D. V. Soria on January 13. In the same radio interview, Emano called the recall initiative proponents as “elitists” and did not represent the city’s poor masses.
Mora said they recently declared six recall sheets as “spoiled” because, although the sheets had different entries under the name column, these bore only one same signature.
In her post at the group’s Facebook page, recall initiative volunteer Rhia Muhi said at least three burly men tried to intimidate them at their recall signing desk in front of the St. Augustine Cathedral last Sunday.
While assisting two elderly women at my table, she said she noticed a tall and husky man in his early 50s staring at her and said: “Kaisug ba nimo nga mamugos sa tawo nga mopirma.” (You’re so brave forcing people to sign.) To which she responded: “Wala ko mamugos og papirma, sir. Ako naay katungod ug katungod usab sa mga tawo mo desider kun unsay makaayo sa ilang kaugmaon.” (I’m not forcing them to sign, Sir. I have this right, and it is also the people’s right to decide what is good for their future.)
After about 30 minutes, Muhi added, two men approached her and again admonished her for “forcing” the people coming out of the church into signing their recall initiative form sheets.
For his part, Mora reiterated that they have never forced nor intimidated anyone into signing the group’s recall initiative. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)