By LEILANI ADRIANO
While trying to defend the interest of her constituents, Pagudpud town mayor Matilde “Maja” Sales has been suspended for 60-days over allegations that she is denying the removal of the Nam Yang vessel that ran aground off the shores of Balaoi bay.
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos ordered the suspension of Sales for 60 days on charges that she harassed the owners’ effort to remove the vessel.
On Thursday afternoon, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) led by provincial director Elpidio Ratuita and the Ilocos Norte Police provincial director Marlou Chan with his men in full battle gear served the suspension order of Sales in her office at the Pagudpud municipal hall.
Sales’ staff however was hesitant to receive the order as they have yet to wait for the mayor who was in Manila on Thursday.
Provincial lawmaker Juan Conrado Respicio, in his capacity as chairperson of the committee on laws said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan believes that there is an urgent need to remove the vessel from the shores of Pagudpud in order to avert any further damages from the oil spill.
But the suspension, according to Respicio was just a preventive measure so as not to preempt an administrative charge filed against her at the SP by Nam Yang vessel’s authorized representative.
The Philippine Coastguard likewise ordered a stop to the salvage operation of Pen Con salvage Corp., the third salvor permitted by the PCG when it found out that the latter lacked standard equipments to conduct salvage operation.
A task force, earlier formed when the vessel ran aground for more than a year now has recommended in a public hearing held at the provincial board, where all parties agreed to cut the upper portion of the vessel and the lower half shall be repaired and be taken out from the area by towing or hauling it by a barge to the shipyard of the salvor where it will be cut/salvaged but unfortunately, it was never followed.
In an earlier interview, Sales said she was just trying to protect the interest of her constituents when she filed for a temporary restraining order, the court granted for 20 days.
Sales legal counsel, Juanito Antonio said his client only wanted a piece of “clear and convincing evidence” as to who really owns the vessel and be assured that damages, the stranded vessel caused to Pagudpud residents’ livelihood and marine resources will be properly settled. # nordis.net