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MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has chosen not to visit Tacloban – the hardest-hit city by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) – a year after the world’s strongest typhoon in recent history made landfall in the Philippines.
Malacañang announced that Aquino would instead visit Guiuan, Eastern Samar, on Friday, November 7.
Asked why the President decided to skip Tacloban, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said Aquino has “limited time.”
“Yolanda affected a wide area. The President chose Guiuan which was first point of impact in November 2013. He has limited time as he is preparing for back-to- back APEC and ASEAN summits. He will report to the people on what the government has done and how it will complete the work through the full implementation of CRRP (Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan),” he said.
Guiuan registered a death toll of 107, while Tacloban lost 2,678 lives, according to the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) website. The government’s total death count from Yolanda is at 6,300, while 1,061 more are estimated missing.
The cost of the typhoon’s damage is also significantly larger in Leyte, P7 billion, compared to Eastern Samar’s P1.4 billion. Tacloban’s damage alone was pegged at P202.67 million.
Coloma denied Aquino’s choice to skip Tacloban had anything to do with the President’s sentiments toward Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez. (READ: Politics, lack of command hound Tacloban)
In the weeks after the typhoon, the President and Romualdez traded barbs over Yolanda, with Aquino turning his anger on local officials who, he said, did not prepare enough, adding the second-class town of Guiuan did better than Tacloban. In response, Romualdez said Aquino’s comments insulted the dead and that the national government should revamp its response to disasters.
In December, a day after a tearful Romualdez said national government refused to help Tacloban unless he signed an ordinance to allow it, a video also made the rounds on the Internet. It showed Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, a staunch ally of the President, telling Romauldez in a meeting: “You have to remember, we have to be careful. You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino.”
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. Roxas said the video was edited and taken out of context. – Rappler.com
For Rappler’s full coverage of the 1st anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), go to this page.