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Former climate change head declared ‘persona non grata’ in Siargao

BUTUAN CITY – Three municipal councils in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte province have issued resolutions declaring former Climate Change Commission chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering as “persona non grata” or unwelcome in their towns.

The local governments accused Sering of unfairly accusing them of being unprepared and of mismanaging the disaster response during the aftermath of Typhoon Odette last year.

“The accusation of Atty. Sering does not only amount to an insult to the honor of town officials, but most of all, a mockery of the earnest efforts extended by the front-liners, who literally made possible the fast and immediate recovery of this municipality, and Siargao in general, from the devastation caused by Typhoon Odette,” the General Luna town council resolution dated Sept. 12, 2022 said.

The town councils of Burgos and San Isidro separately passed resolutions on Aug. 22, copies of which were obtained by the Philippine News Agency on Thursday (Sept. 22).

Based on the resolutions, town officials said it was inappropriate and unacceptable for Sering to accuse them of bungling the disaster response, as they had done what they can under challenging circumstances.

For San Isidro town, Sering’s criticism was tantamount to disrespecting “the concerted efforts of the local officials and the front-liners.” It said the local government managed to provide for the basic needs of the 2,299 affected families during the typhoon.

Officials of Burgos, meanwhile, underscored the town government’s response, noting that it was able to distribute food supplies to some 1,450 affected families.

Still, Sering, a native of Siargao and daughter to a former governor, stood her ground and said she was not affected by the persona non grata declaration.

“The declarations have no effect on me. I can still go to Siargao just like any person because I am a Filipino,” she said during an interview with the RPN-DXKS Surigao on Tuesday.

Likewise, Sering said her views on the supposed lackluster performance of local officials during Typhoon Odette have not changed, noting that the residents themselves have aired their dissatisfaction over how the post-disaster response was handled.

Meanwhile, several sources said two more towns in Siargao Island are set to pass separate resolutions next week declaring Sering unwelcome in their municipalities.

“Odette” killed 15 Siargao islanders in December 2021.

A report by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) estimated the damage at over PHP1.1 billion in Siargao alone. (PNA)


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