Suspend Metro mayors

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago urged President Macapagal-Arroyo to suspend mayors in Metro Manila for their failure to implement the Solid Waste Management Act.

She said all mayors should be facing “administrative charges” for their failure to enforce laws that will minimize, if not prevent, flooding such as the Building Code, the Water Code, the Clean Air Act, among others.

”I suggest that the President should place on preventive suspension all the mayors of all the areas involved because there is no other person they can pass the buck to,” Santiago said.

She noted that the mayors are pointing fingers. “But the fact is under the Local Government Code the mayor of that municipality or city or highly- organized area is the chief executive responsible for executing or implementing all the plans for the environment that had already been passed by Congress,” she said.

”In any event, these people have to be held to answer because basically it is not the duty of the national government to look after urban planning, especially the enforcement of several laws we already have,” she added.

”These are mainly executive in function. These are functions of the mayor and the other local government officials,” she said. She noted that the biggest injury was suffered by residents in Metro Manila, particularly Marikina, as well as nearby Cainta in Rizal province.

”Under the Local Government Code it’s either the Office of the President which should investigate and conduct the public hearing or it can be the Sanggunian if the official or mayors concerned is a mayor of a city or governor of a province or a highly-urbanized area. And lower down the scale, it could be the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or the Sangguniang Pambarangay, depending on the state of the officials concerned,” she said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said “it is very clear that the LGUs are frontliners of defense.’’

Legarda wants to hold the LLDA responsible for the flashfloods in Laguna since she believes that LLDA officials failed to check the proliferation of illegal fishpens and other structures that clogged passageways for floodwaters.

”In our next hearing, we will summon the LLDA (Laguna Lake Development Authority) to find out how the lakeshore towns of Laguna will be affected by the rising of the Laguna de Bay at the same time discuss the problem of illegal fishpens and illegal settlers around the area,” she said.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, however, said the LLDA should be either abolished or given more power.

“It is about time something is done about the LLDA, either give it ample powers so it could effectively address the problems in the lake once and for all, or abolish it,” Atienza said during the hearing.