Robredo visits Nina-hit CamSur: 'I wish I was here'
MANILA, Philippines – If she could turn back time, Vice President Leni Robredo would have been in her hometown, Camarines Sur, when Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) battered the Bicol region during the Christmas break.
"Siguro kung mababalik lang, mas gusto ko na nandito ako. Pero making the best out of the situation, hindi na mababalik, pero bumabawi tayo," Robredo said in a chance interview on Tuesday, January 3.
(If we can turn back time, I wish I was here. But making the best out of the situation, we cannot reverse it, but we are making up for it.)
When Nina struck, Robredo was in the US for a family reunion that was planned more than a year ago.
"Nandoon ako na parang ang sama sa loob ko na may nangyayari dito na wala ako. Isang bagay na hindi din ako masaya – siguro marami din tayong ginawa while wala dito, inasikaso ang lahat ng relief, pero iba talaga kasi 'pag ako mismo ang nandito. Parang nandoon ako pero iyong pakiramdam na dapat nandito ka," Robredo said.
(I was there but I felt bad that something was happening here and I was not here. One thing that didn't make me happy – even though we provided relief while I was not here, it is really different when I am here.)
Robredo said she was present in all other typhoons that battered her province, except for Nina.
"Actually nasa bakasyon ako pero hindi rin ako makapag-concentrate. Iyong inaasikaso ko iyong relief operations dito," she added. (I was on vacation but I was not able to concentrate. I was facilitating the relief operations here.)
The Office of the Vice President, in partnership with non-governmental organization Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance, conducted relief operations right after the typhoon. They are currently accepting donations for the victims.
Robredo, who returned home with her 3 daughters and 80-year-old mother, said they had a difficult time finding flights back because it was peak season. The earliest flight they got was December 31, which was 4 days ahead of their previously scheduled flight to the Philippines
"Iyong Christmas season kasi, iyon ang panahon ng reunion ng pamilya ng asawa ko. Noong namatay iyong asawa ko, sunud-sunod, apat namatay sa pamilya namin. Kaya iyon every Christmas season magkakasama kami. Nagkataon lang ngayon na turn ng sister-in-law ko na siya ang magho-host kaya sa US nataon," she explained.
(The Christmas season is the time for the reunion of my late husband's family. Ever since he died, 4 people died in our family. So every Christmas season, we are together. It just so happened that it's the turn of my sister in law, who lives in the US, to host us. )
After her arrival, Robredo went to Camarines Sur to inspect the damage caused by Nina in her province. Her first stop was Ocampo town, which is the poorest municipality there.
She noticed that the recovery of Ocampo from the typhoon seems to be slower than usual.
"Sa tingin ko medyo mabagal, mabagal iyong galaw. Halimbawa dito, isang barangay pa lang napupuntahan ko dito, pero iyong reklamo ni Kap, na iyong galing pa lang sa amin na tulong ang dumating," she said.
(I think the recovery is slow. For example, in this barangay, the captain's complaint is that only aid from us has reached them.)
"Tingin ko kailangan tulungan kung paano mapapabilis kasi medyo unusual ito na 8 days after, hindi pa nga 50% iyong nababalik na kuryente," she added.
(I think we have to help them speed up the recovery because it is unusual that 8 days after, electricity has not been restored in 50% of the area.)
The Vice President is scheduled to visit other Camarines Sur municipalities, as well as Catanduanes, until January 6, to identify other possible forms of assistance to the victims.
Camarines Sur and Catanduanes are two of the municipalities declared under state of calamity in the aftermath of Nina. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) pegged the total damage of Nina at P681 million* ($13.67 million). – Rappler.com
*$1 = P49.79
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