Camiguin mayors protest DILG charges over road clearing

CAMIGUIN, Philippines – The mayors of two small municipalities in the island province of Camiguin protested the administrative complaints filed against them by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) over their alleged failure to comply with the nationwide directive to clear roads.  

They have nothing to clear really, said Mayor Joseph Uayan of Sagay and Mayor Helenio Abecia of Guinsiliban – their towns are among the smallest local government units in the country, and their roads are narrow.  

The guidelines for the evaluation were not clear to the mayors when evaluators came. The DILG provided them the guidelines at the same time it served them the show-cause orders in November 2019.  

Uayan and Abecia were among the 10 local chief executives against whom the DILG filed complaints of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct with the Office of the Ombudsman. 

They were the first batch to face complaints among the 97 mayors whom the department earlier said failed to meet President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadline for clearing roads of obstructions. 

The President had given mayors until September 29, 2019, to reclaim all public roads that were being used for private ends. The DILG required local government units (LGUs) to have the following: 

Both mayors said the evaluation on their towns were conducted in November 2019 without giving the LGUs clear guidance on what was supposed to be measured. 

UNJUST. Camiguin town mayors Joseph Uayan of Sagay (left) and Helenio Abecia of Guinsiliban say the DILG guidelines came in late, and evaluators didnu2019t have a clear idea what they were grading local governments for. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

UNJUST. Camiguin town mayors Joseph Uayan of Sagay (left) and Helenio Abecia of Guinsiliban say the DILG guidelines came in late, and evaluators didnu2019t have a clear idea what they were grading local governments for.

Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Municipality of Guinsiliban: Mayor Abecia said that his town is too small – population of 6,000, with 7 barangays, two of which are in the mountains – to have illegal structures on its roads. There were no informal settlers either.  

As early as 1996, the had passed a local ordinance prohibiting parking on roads and overnight parking. 

“My town is a 6th -class and the second smallest municipality nationwide…. We really wonder why we failed the road clearing, we have a zero rating," Abecia said. “How could you have vendors having population of just 6,000 most of them are probably somewhere else.” 

He added: “When the evaluators came, they were measuring buildings when the operations should have been about road clearing. We clear the road for traffic purposes.” 

“We have no violations from the order of DILG for road clearing, we only have a single basketball board being played upon which I ordered destroyed,” Abecia said. 

Municipality of Sagay: Sagay Mayor Uayan said that town is a 5th-class municipality with 9 barangays, two of which are in the mountain. It has a population of 12,386. 

"When were informed of the road clearing, we implemented it, but we have no complete picture of what is the guidelines or what we should do," Uayan said. 

“So we had road clearing…. We cleared trees, trimmed them, because we had no clear ideas what it was, there was no policy guidelines,” Uayan said. “Even the evaluators were not properly oriented.” 

He continued: “There is no structures that encroached on roads. We just have one roof that protrude into the road. We also trimmed trees and removed a single old car that is on the road and transferred it.”  

The only illegal settlers in his town was a single family living near the beach. They have been relocated.

Still, mayors Uayan and Abecia said they would comply with the DILG’s show-cause order, even as they await formal notice from the Ombudsman.   

“We have submitted our forms, copies of local ordinances in relations to road clearings, obstructions, to the DILG regional office in Cagayan de Oro City,” Uayan said. 

"We are a working LGU. We even won the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) for 3 consecutive years (2017, 18, 19), and now we got a case for road clearing when there is really nothing to clear,” Uayan added. – Rappler.com