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LEYTE, Philippines – Wooing voters in his mother's province, vice presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr said it is his cousin, Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is the "true hero" of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and not administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II as claimed by the former Cabinet official's campaign comics.
Marcos made the statement at a campaign rally in Tacloban City where he was joined by his mother, former first lady now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, and other candidates from the Romualdez clan.
The senator applauded Romualdez for being the "true hero of Yolanda" before he launched his indirect attack against Roxas.
“Yung iba diyan sinasabi na sila ang bayani, pero sa komiks lang yan (Some candidates claim to be heroes, but only in comics)," he said, without naming the Liberal Party bet. (READ: Comic book will not make us vote for Roxas – Yolanda survivors)
Marcos was referring to Sa Gitna ng Unos (In the Midst of the Storm) which narrates the life of Roxas and his accomplishments as Capiz representative, as trade secretary, and interior chief, including his work on Yolanda in November 2013. It was reportedly initiated by Roxas' supporters.
Roxas, who was in Tacloban before, during, and after the super typhoon struck Eastern and Western Visayan, had been criticized for his performance especially on the aftermath of the typhoon. The national government was scored for its slow response on relief and rehabilitation even after it named former senator Panfilo Lacson as Yolanda rehabilitation czar in December 2013.
Marcos then revived the controversial line which Roxas relayed to Mayor Romualdez during a meeting in the aftermath of the typhoon, contained in an edited video released on social media. It implied that the national government was politicizing relief efforts in Leyte, which was later clarified by both parties involved.
“Narinig pa natin na kahit may mga biktima, patay pa sa lansangan, narinig natin, ‘Remember, you are a Romualdez and the president is an Aquino.’ Pati ba naman ‘yon ay ipinolitika?” Marcos added.
(At a time when a lot of dead bodies lie on road, we heard this: "Remember you are a Romualdez and the president is an Aquino" Why do we politicize tragedies?)
Roxas had earlier cried foul over this video and pointed out that it was spliced or edited to take out important portions of his conversation with the mayor. At the commemoration of the Yolanda disaster last year, Romualdez apologized to President Benigno Aquino III for his harsh words post-Yolanda, and thanked the national leadership for all its help.
Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue / Rappler
Addressing Yolanda survivors on Monday, Marcos said in his speech, “The courage you have shown made people admire you."
Marcos added that in the many years and administrations that have passed, Filipinos still face the same problems and issues.
“Sa aking pananaw, ito ay nangyari dahil sa nakaraang ilang taon, sa nakaraang ilang administrasyon tayo pong mga Pilipino, ang ating mga lider imbes na tayo ay pinagkakaisa, tayo ay pinaghihiwa-hiwalay, pinag-aaway-away. At ginagawa lamang nila ito alang-alang sa politka,” he added.
(In my view, this happened because in the past years, in the past several administrations, our leaders, instead of uniting us, divided us. And they're doing this just because of politics.)
He also reiterated his platform of national unity. – Rappler.com
Jene-Anne Pangue is a community and civic engagement specialist of MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Her involvement with Rappler started when she became a mover in 2014 and an intern in 2015. Since then, she learned the importance of building communities of action for social good as she continues to work with movers and doers across the country.