Chatto defends Mar
Jessa Agua (The Freeman) - October 18, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto yesterday came to Secretary Mar Roxas’ rescue, two days after the cabinet secretary got angry at the rehabilitation status of government structures affected by the earthquake as financed by the Bohol Earthquake Assistance.

The P2.3-billion Bohol Earthquake Assistance for Bohol province alone is directly supervised by the Department of Interior and Local Government, which Roxas leads.

The statement, which did not bear Chatto’s signature, was titled “Governor Chatto Clarifies Bohol ‘Sabunan’ Story” and opened with the phrase “Roxas offered help, did not berate anyone.”

“In one report, Roxas was quoted as saying: ‘Meron na ba ni isang pako na ipinako, minartilyo dyan o wala? This could have been interpreted to mean that Roxas was reprimanding them. Chatto said, ‘in fact, he was just asking if work were already proceeding’,” the statement read.

A part of the statement also narrates it was Chatto who invited Roxas to attend the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management assessment on the day of the first anniversary of the earthquake and personally look into the rehabilitation process.

“The meeting was cordial and it was inaccurate for anyone to say that Roxas ‘reprimanded the local officials,’ Chatto explained. We felt it was his duty to remind everyone of the need to hasten rehabilitation especially so because the program falls under his department. Sec. Roxas and the Bohol officials had a photo opportunity before the meeting adjourned where Gov. Chatto gave to Roxas a coffee table book ‘Pagsulay’ featuring the old churches of Bohol before and after the earthquake. Chatto continued saying that mayors and local officials present thanked Roxas for paying close attention to the construction projects in Bohol. This shows no one was berated during the meeting,” the statement further read.

The statement was emailed to The FREEMAN from Ma. Dahlia Quijada, Chatto’s office staff member.

However, other members of Cebu media received the same statement as forwarded by Cebu Capitol spokeswoman Ethel Natera after a certain Shem Quezon, said to be a staff member of Roxas, emailed her and requested dissemination to local media.

Chatto and Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III both ran and won the 2013 elections under the Liberal Party, with which Roxas is also affiliated.

Chatto confirmed the statement is officially from his office and explained it didn’t bear his signature because he was in Cebu yesterday for the Good Governance workshop.

“Yesterday morning, I decided to write a formal statement because members of the media are asking me about the supposed scolding. At first, I did not bother talking because for me, it was not a reprimand. But when my office has been receiving calls from local, regional and national media, that’s when I decided to issue a statement. I wrote the draft morning, sent it to my staff and they disseminated it in the afternoon. I could not sign it since I am here in Cebu,” Chatto said.

He further clarified on the email thread forwarded by Natera came from Roxas’ staff.

“Maybe my staff furnished them with the statement and then they helped in disseminating it to reporters here. But the statement came from us. I wrote it in coordination with my staff,” Chatto said.

He added that his weekly radio program in Bohol also had officials from Bohol DILG, DPWH and provincial engineering to thoroughly explain the process of the BEA-DILG projects, the requirements especially the program of works.

Meanwhile, Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco who earlier called Roxas “gago” declined to comment on the statement by their governor.

 ‘Di na ko mo-react ana. I have said my piece,” Evasco said.

 For his part, Clarin Mayor Allen Piezas, one of the two mayors reprimanded by Roxas during the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management assessment, said he has already set for a meeting with the League of Municipalities Bohol chapter next week.

He personally thought the remarks of Roxas during the supposed solemn and dramatic remembrance of the earthquake was an expression of “dismay and frustration.”

“Akoa sad nga personal opinion, at first murag nangasaba pero expression of dismay and frustration ra siguro to. Because the release funds was in June unya wa pay nakasugod og construct. Mao toy iyang reaction. Pag pangutana sa mayors was more like to ask unsay problema nganung nalangay. Di ko kaingon nga nangasaba gyud. Murag nangutana lang sa sitwasyon,” Piezas said.

He, however, believed that the guidelines arrived “a bit too late” and contributed to the delay in completion of program of works and estimates.

“August na gud naabot. Nag-distribution June pa. Then nag-signing of memorandum of agreement mga September 2 na if my recollection is correct,” he said.  —/BRP(FREEMAN)

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