MANILA – With Senior Superintendent David Lacdan ousted from his post as Benguet police director due to the high number of fatalities in the province during the rage of Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu), Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan believed that the police chief did no wrong.
“Lando brought unprecedented rains. [The Philippine Atmosperic, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)] said Lando poured in one night the volume of rain that would ordinarily have taken a month in the province. No matter who was in charge, he wouldn’t have predicted which mountain would erode. We cannot blame [these tragedies] on just one person,” Fongwan said in an Inquirer.net report.
Sarmiento sent the directive to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez, instructing him to relieve Lacdan who was replaced by Senior Superintendent David Peredo as Benguet police chief.
The Interior Secretary, a former Baguio police chief, stressed that ‘with Benguet’s terrain, the odds were high that there would be landslides. There were preparations but these were not enough… The police’s job is to serve and protect.’
“I was surprised that he got sacked… While most of the people were sleeping, Benguet officials and police officers were up doing the rounds, monitoring Lando, conducting rescue operations, clearing roadblocks. Police officers were quick to respond to calls for help,” Fongwan said in the same report.
Lacdan, for his part, has been reassigned to the Cordillera police regional office headquarters, according to PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor.
Meanwhile, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III acknowledged that the government could still do more in improving its preparations for disasters, especially aiming for zero-casualty.
“I suppose when we assess everything, we can see the things to improve on. We still have casualties,” Aquino said in a Philippine Star report, noting that local and national officials could have meetings and discuss problems that could be avoided, particularly on casualties.
“We cannot avoid, I repeat, 20 typhoons that pass here every year, but we can prepare [for them,” he added, believing that the government could continue to learn from disasters. “My appeal is let’s continue our cooperation, coordination with each other so we can speed up the process.”
Among the 58 casualties from the onslaught of Lando, 20 were from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), with 15 in Benguet. The province registered the highest number in the typhoon’s death toll.
Moreover, three casualties were from Ifugao, two in Baguio City and one in Abra. Apayao and Kalinga provinces attained zero-casualty.