Why Mar was silent during Yolanda anniversary
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II yesterday said he deliberately remained silent during the second anniversary of the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda out of respect to the victims of the disaster.  

“I decided that the best respect I can give is to remain silent. What else can I say that I did not say before?” he said in Filipino in an interview with editors, reporters and columnists of The STAR.

“I risked my life to warn our countrymen. Silence is my own way of respecting them. If they accept it, okay. If not, then I can’t do anything about it,” he added.

Roxas also maintained that he and other members of the Cabinet did their best to help typhoon-hit communities.

Yolanda has left at least 6,300 persons dead and damaged about P90 billion worth of properties in 2013.

The Aquino government has been accused of neglecting Tacloban City, the area worst hit by Yolanda just because its mayor, Alfred Romualdez, belongs to a rival clan of the President’s family. 

A day before the second anniversary of Yolanda, Romualdez complained that the national government’s priorities for recovery and rehabilitation after the typhoon were misplaced, citing the construction of the Tacloban-Palo-Tanauan Road Dike Project to protect communities in Leyte against storm surges instead of focusing on permanent housing, livelihood and other basic social services for the people.

Other critics also claimed the Aquino administration has injected politics in the relief efforts by prioritizing areas governed by its political allies.

Government officials have denied the allegations, saying that even international bodies like the United Nations have praised the Aquino administration’s rehabilitation program. 

During the second anniversary of Yolanda on Sunday, Romualdez thanked President Aquino for assisting his constituents and apologized for hurtful words he said against the Aquino administration. 

Malacañang expressed hope yesterday that Romualdez’s decision to apologize and thank President Aquino for his efforts to rebuild areas devastated by Yolanda would lead to better cooperation between the national and local governments in rebuilding areas hit by the disaster.

Roxas also welcomed Romualdez’s statement, saying it validated the government’s claim that Tacloban City was not neglected. 

But while Roxas appeared to have moved on from his issue with Romualdez, the LP presidential bet is still hurting over the report of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper about the supposed inaction of officials during the aftermath of Yolanda. 

“It hurts if people say that we were not doing anything. I organized the team collecting the corpses. Just to go back to Anderson Cooper, he saw bodies lying on the roadside. What he did not understand was I ordered the BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection) to gather the bodies since they are not dealing with any fire incident,” Roxas said. 

Roxas said Cooper may had seen the bodies that were about to be picked up by the BFP personnel, but did not realize these were new piles of body bags because the previous ones were already collected. 

“These people are bloated beyond recognition. The stench of death, the smell of death was all over. The BFP members were collecting corpses every day. It was not easy. They did not carry sacks of rice. They carried bodies and placed them inside bags,” he added.    

Roxas explained the bodies were checked for IDs. For those with no IDs, their fingerprints and DNA samples were taken for identification.  – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Aurea Calica

 

 

 

ACIRC ALFRED ROMUALDEZ ANDERSON COOPER AQUINO AUREA CALICA NBSP PRESIDENT AQUINO ROMUALDEZ ROXAS TACLOBAN CITY YOLANDA
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