Palace vows to punish officials over Pantukan disaster

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President Aquino "will not hesitate" to punish local executives

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday, January 9, vowed to punish those found accountable for lapses that had contributed to the Pantukan disaster in Compostela Valley, which killed 50 people last week.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news briefing that unlike previous administrations, the Aquino administration “will not hesitate” to punish local officials who have failed in disaster mitigation and management.

On the observation that no one has been punished for failure to mitigate or manage disasters, Valte said, “Well, this time it will be different. We have always mentioned that accountability is one of the key points, one of the stronger points of the Aquino administration and certainly we will not hesitate to push for accountability where it lies.”

Valte gave the assurance amid calls by environmental activists for the government to share the blame in the landslide in Compostela Valley, as it could have implemented measures to prevent it since a similar incident happened around that area in April last year.

As this developed, a total of 36 bodies had been retrieved from the disaster site. At least 42 are still missing, according to government data.

Asked whether President Aquino would consider a total mining ban in Mindanao, Valte reiterated the Chief Executive’s position that the government would prioritize the wishes of the host community in terms of mining operations.

“There have been several pronouncements made by the President on mining in as far as the wishes of the community primarily because they will be the ones affected and, from what I understand, if the community wants it, if it is highly-regulated, then we will support whatever decision that the community makes as to mining in their area,” she said. –

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