Tacloban mayoralty bets differ on Yolanda rehabilitation
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - Mayoral candidate and councilor Neil Glova doesn’t mind if he loses the election, but claims his loss will be a loss for the urban poor.
“Walang kawalan sa akin pero sa urban poor meron kasi wala na silang malalapitan,” Glova told Rappler on Thursday, May 5. (I won’t lose anything, but the urban poor will lose because there will be no one they can turn to.)
Glova is running against fellow councilor Cristina Romualdez, the wife of the incumbent city Mayor Alfred Romualdez. Glova has criticized his opponent for being an outsider to Tacloban City.
Romualdez dismissed this criticim: “I am a Filipino and I’ve been living here since 1998 when my husband became a congressman. I’m from here, I love this place and I love the people.”
(WATCH: The Mayors of Tacloban)
Despite running against the influential Romualdez clan, Glova believes he has a good chance of winning.
“The foundation of my candidacy is based on fighting for the cause of the urban poor sector, the informal settlers,” he said.
One of Glova’s fights is to stop the relocation of thousands of families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) to the northern part of Tacloban City. Glova said the relocation, part of the Yolanda rehabilitation plan, is defective because it will separate the residents from their source of livelihood.
“You cannot send a fisherfolk to the mountain,” he said.
He also said the relocation plan lacked the requisite consultation with the affected families.
In 2014, the local government completed a master plan for Northern Tacloban to relocate families living in temporary shelters following Yolanda. The designated relocation site is far from the city’s danger zones, which include areas near the sea and others low-lying parts of the city. The local government said the site will have water, electricity, schools, markets and jobs. (READ: Less than 10% of target homes of built)
“This is Tacloban’s response to the need to build resilient cities,” said Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is not seeking any elected post in the elections. (READ: Romualdez to Aquino: Sorry for the harsh words)
Nearly 1,500 families have been transferred to this new township.
Glova proposes that instead of moving them to the new township, the local government should resettle them where they live. He also wants to construct permanent evacuation centers and build comfort rooms for each house.
“It is time to improve their condition, not abandon (them). You have to give them dignity. And it is the responsibility of the government to give it,” he said. “Sayop ini nga aksyon ky ini nga mga pamilya mga biktima hin kapobrihan, kun ibalhin pa ini hira, it ira kinabuhi maiging mas miserable.” (This is a wrong action because these families are victims of poverty and if you insist on transferring them, their lives will be more miserable.)
He claims that it is the goal of the Romualdezes to keep the poor poor. “Isang strategy to perpetuate power: keep the people poor para konting pera lang, mag-aagawan. Pagbinili mo, magpapabili na ‘yon.” (It’s a strategy to perpetuate power: keep the people poor so they will accept whatever money you give them.)
His opponent, who is now on her third term as councilor, is running on a campaign to continue her husband’s work. Her plans include building a water system for permanent housing projects.
“We want to improve the economy because many people in Tacloban are still suffering from poverty,” Romualdez said.
Campaigning with his slogan, ‘Iba Naman’, Glova urged voters to vote for a mayor other than the father and son who ruled Tacloban for a long time and now the wife who also vies for the same position.
“My governance will be sensitive to the concerns of the urban poor and sentiments of different sectors…. I am ready to win. I am excited that the resources of the government be given to these people,” Glova said.
Who to vote
Glova also urged Tacloban voters to use Yolanda experience to strengthen and value their votes this coming election.
“Kung mayroon mang malaking halaga na ibinibigay upang bilhin ang boto niyo, nakikiusap ako na sana ay maalala natin ang mapait na karanasan at isaisip natin ang kaginhawaan na makakamit lang sa pamamagitan ng pagboto ng tama,” Glova said in an interview.
(If there are large amount of money that will be given in exchange of your vote, I am asking you to remember the tragic experiences brought by Yolanda and come to think of the comfort that only results from voting the right way.)
In the 2013 elections for city councilors, Cristina Romualdez got 50,563 votes while Neil Glova got 32,430, excluding the absentee voters.
Cristina Romualdez, a member of the Nacionalista Party, was a popular actress in the nineties before entering politics.
Glova used to be a member of the Liberal party but is now running under the National People’s Coalition (NPC). In 2013, the NPC’s mayoral bet, Florencio Gabriel “Bem” Noel, lost against Mayor Romualdez.
His line up of councilors, however, are running under the Liberal Party (LP).
Tacloban City is a highly urbanized city in the northeastern part of Leyte island and is also considered as the premier urban area in Eastern Visayas.
The city has 138 barangays and has more than 120,000 registered voters, most of which are still recovering from the effects of Supertyphoon Yolanda. - Rappler.com
Jene-Anne Pangue is a Rappler Mover from Tacloban.