MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Inaccurate. Misleading. Malicious.
Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday, December 11, hit back at Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez for releasing an “edited” video of a meeting held in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
In a press conference, Roxas said the Romualdez camp was behind the editing and release of the video on social media.
“Sinadyang pinutol at tinanggal ang mahalagang bahagi ng pag-uusap. May masamang balak ang taong [naglabas ng video],” Roxas said. (Huge chunks of the conversation were removed on purpose. Whoever released that video had bad motives.)
“Ang layunin ng malisosyong video na ito ay pagtakpan ang sariling kapabayaan ni Mayor Romualdez,” he added. (This malicious video was released to cover up Romualdez’ own mistakes.)
Watch the “edited” video here:
Watch what uploaders claim to be the complete and unedited version here:
Avoiding the blame game
The video was released on social media one day after a tearful Romualdez said national government refused to help Tacloban unless he signed an ordinance to allow it. In the meeting, Roxas supposedly told Romualdez: “You have to remember, we have to be careful. You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino.” (READ: Politics, lack of command hound Tacloban)
Romualdez comes from the clan of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, whose husband, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, put the President’s father in jail. Aquino’s father, Benigno Jr, was assassinated under the Marcos regime.
But Roxas said his words were taken out of context. “Ang nais ko lamang gawin, linawin ang hatian ng trabaho,” said Roxas. (I wanted to clarify the division of work.)
The President, said Roxas, was careful about being “misconstrued” because people might think politics was involved in government’s post-Yolanda efforts.
“Ang nais ko lamang gawin: linawin ang hatian ng trabaho at pananagutan ng bawat isa. Sinabi niya na ‘hindi na namin kaya ito. Kami na raw ang bahala.’ Para malinaw, sinabi ko na sumulat siya para walang turuan at walang sisihan balang araw.”
Roxas said he wanted to sort things through to avoid finger-pointing. “Ito na nga, nangyayari na ang turuan at sisihan,” he added. (The blame game is happening.)
But he also resorted to the same, accusing Romualdez of failing to order city officials to be at the operations center for Yolanda. He also said Romualdez has not convened – to this day – the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and City Peace and Order Council to deal with the Yolanda aftermath. “Akin ding napag-alaman na matapos ang Yolanda hanggang sa ngayon, ang mga mahahalagang konseho tulad ng Sangguniang Panlunsod, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council at City Peace and Order Council ay hindi pa rin pinupulong para sa disaster response.”
Government was criticized heavily for the “slow” relief operations in the hours immediately after the storm. It took more than 3 days before relief goods reached certain barangays (villages) in Tacloban, and more than a week before the dead were collected.
Letter a ‘formality’
Roxas, who was one of the many “ground commanders” during post-Yolanda relief operations, said it was the local government unit (LGU) that made it hard for the national government to extend help. He said the LGU failed to detail what exactly it was that they needed from the national government. (READ: Haiyan crisis: No ground commander)
The letter that Roxas asked the mayor to write was only a formality, Roxas said. “Hindi ito ang susi. Ang national government nandoon bago pa ang bagyo,” Roxas said. (It’s not the only way to get help. The national government was there even before the storm.)
Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin were in Tacloban when Yolanda made landfall on November 8. Communication lines were destroyed during the storm, and both officials could not be reached for hours since they failed to bring satellite phones.
National, local dynamics
Roxas also stressed the role of LGUs as first responders. National government only comes in to augment any shortcomings.
It’s a protocol many local officials want to change in the aftermath of the storm.
Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said that hours after the storm, only 50 out of almost 2,000 city hall employees reported for work. The city’s police force was also cut short.
The conflict between Roxas and Romualdez is the latest in a growing list of squabbles between national and local government over relief efforts post-Yolanda. President Benigno Aquino III and Romualdez traded barbs days after the storm after the President said the Tacloban government did not prepare for Yolanda.
Roxas called on Romualdez’ camp to be truthful and challenged them to release the video in full.
“Natutuwa nga ako na nangyari ito dahil napatunayan may malisya. Hindi paghahanap ng katotohanan. Bakit di iupload yung [buo]?” he said. (I’m happy the video was released because it only proves malice is involved, not the search for truth. Why don’t you upload the meeting in full?” – Rappler.com