As Ferrer supervises relief ops in MisOcc, new OCD administrator takes oath in Malacanang

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 30 December) – Retired General Raymundo Ferrer, was unceremoniously removed as Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and replaced by former Bureau of Customs executive Ariel Nepomuceno, who took his oath in Malacanang on Wednesday while Ferrer was busy supervising the government’s relief operations in Misamis Occidental. 

Undersecretary Ferrer’s sudden replacement caught humanitarian groups by surprise, particularly those serving the disaster sites in Misamis Occidental. 

Ferrer, also Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) was in Misamis Occidental with Department of Defense OIC Jose Faustino, Jr. when Nepomuceno was sworn in by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin in Malacanang. 

“The relief order was untimely because Ferrer has been doing a good job coordinating with us. Sayang,” Charlito Manlupig, president of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc., said.

Malacanang gave no explanation why Ferrer was replaced. Faustino administered the turnover rites on Thursday in Camp Aguinaldo. 

Department of Defense OIC Jose Faustino, Jr. speaks at the turnover rites of the Office of Civil Defense on Thursday, December 29, 2022 in Camp Aguinaldo. Undersecretary Raymundo Ferrer (seated L), is replaced by Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno as OCD Administrator and Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Photo courtesy of OCD

Ferrer, a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Class 1977, assumed the post on August 3. 

In a statement posted on social media on Thursday, Ferrer said that in his brief stint as Civil Defense Administrator and NDRRMC Executive Director, “I have seen the hard work and commitment of the men and women behind the DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction Management) initiatives of the government.”

“Thank you for working with me through the numerous challenging response operations and preparedness activities,” he said, adding he is one with them “in spirit and (will) continue to support you as you do your part in building disaster-resilient communities. Keep that indefatigable public service burning. Carry on!” 

In. a statement, the OCD welcomed its new administrator, describing him as a “seasoned public servant.”

It said Nepomuceno “brings to OCD his years of administrative experience as well as the drive to further push the national resilience agenda to safeguard Filipino communities against the threats of disaster.”

Nepomuceno, a member of  PMA Class 1987, had served as Director and Executive Officer of the OCD from 2012 to 2013 before joining the BOC in 2013 as Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement. until 2017 and as Assistant Commissioner from 2017 to 2018. 

Nepomuceno was among Customs officials tagged by then Senator Panfilo Lacson in the “tara” or bribe money scandal in 2017.

Then presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Nepomuceno and the BOC officials were cleared of the allegations.

Ferrer,  a retired general who served as commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command and later the Western Mindanao Command is an active Senior Fellow and Lecturer of Balay Mindanaw, an NGO primarily engaged in promoting equity-based development and sustainable peace in the poorest and conflict-torn areas of Mindanao. but since Typhoon Sendong in December 2011, has also been deploying disaster response teams.

Balay Mindanaw with the assistance of OCD in Region 10 facilitated the transport to flood-stricken Misamis Occidental of two additional SkyHydrants, a water filtration system donated by Disaster Aid Australia for emergency response operations to ensure the provision of safe drinking water to affected communities.

Manlupig said Ferrer who has long experience in dealing with NGOs and civic clubs, has made relief operations easier in coordination with the local governments.

One of two SkyHydrants deployed to Misamis Occidental, in addition to two others earlier deployed. Photo courtesy of OCD_Region 10

The province of Misamis Occidental is among the hardest hit by the rains and flashflood triggered by shear line, a weather disturbance, according to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in Northern Mindanao.

At least 19 died while two persons were still missing when flash floods inundated Oroquieta City and the towns of Aloran, Clarin, Jimenez and Tudela.

The RDRRMC 10 also recorded three deaths in Misamis Oriental and two in Bukidnon  bringing the total number of the dead to 24, as of 3 p.m. on Thursday. 

A state of calamity has been declared in the cities of Ozamiz, Oroquieta and the town of Sinacaban in Misamis Occidental; and Gingoog City and the towns of Medina and Talisayan in Misamis Oriental. 

Many of these cities and towns have gone waterless since Christmas Eve, posing major health risks to its residents, the regional disaster relief operations center said.

Some 20,406 families or 88,744 individuals were affected by the flash floods and spent Christmas Eve in the evacuation centers. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)