MANILA, Philippines – During a visit to Tacloban City on Friday, January 22, the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) dismissed assumptions he will not get votes there because of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“Lahat naman yan ay gawa-gawa ng ating mga katunggali. Kayo mismo nakita ninyo na naipatayo natin – nung natapos ang Yolanda ang dumaan po sa amin sa DILG ay apat na bilyong piso na mga projects – pagpapatayo ng mga palengke, mga civic center, mga munisipyo. Lahat yan ay 85% tapos na. Yan ang katotohanan at dyan ako nakasandal,” he told reporters in a chance interview.
(Those are lies concocted by my rivals. You yourself have seen that we’ve helped the city rise. After Yolanda, P4 billion went through the interior department for these projects – to build markets, civic centers, municipal halls. All of these are 85% done. That’s the truth and we stand by that.)
Roxas was asked about sentiments on social media that he would get no votes in the city because of the government’s response in the aftermath of Yolanda, among the strongest typhoons to make landfall in history.
Then interior secretary, Roxas was one of the government officials who flew to Tacloban before the storm hit land and stayed behind in the days and weeks after to lead relief efforts.
The national government was criticized for its slow response to the crisis and for supposedly dragging politics into relief operations.
Roxas was the reluctant star in a viral video clip from his meeting with Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, a member of the opposition and a relative of former first lady Imelda Marcos.
President Benigno Aquino III’s father, the late senator Aquino, was a political rival of the Marcoses who was assassinated during the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Pressed if the government’s efforts in rehabilitating Tacloban would be enough to “appease” locals, Roxas again insisted that this was simply about politics.
“Nakita ninyo naman eh. Lalapit ba sa akin itong mga kababayan natin dito na napakainit ng pagtanggap nila sa akin kung may issue sila sa akin? Nakita naman nila na tapat tayo sa pagbibigay serbisyo. Kasama nila, magkakasama kami bago pa dumating si Yolanda magkasama na kami dito. Hindi ko sila iniwanan hanggang sa ngayon ay nakatutok pa rin tayo sa kanila,” he said.
(You’ve seen it yourself. Would our countrymen here welcome me warmly if they have an issue against me? They’ve seen that I’ve been honest in my service. I was with them even before Yolanda came. I never left them and to this day, I’m keeping track of the progress here.)
The market Roxas visited was among those that benefited from the Recovery Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) fund which was under the interior department.
Recently, Roxas was criticized by fellow presidential candidate Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his supposed incompetence in the aftermath of Yolanda.
“Alam niyo, pababa siya sa survey, kaya ako na naman ang nahahanap niya. Ako na lang parati ang nakikita niya para mapataas niya ang sarili niya. Hindi niya alam kung ano ang gagawin niya sa ating bansa, ano bang plano niya. Wala na siyang nakita kung di ako. Ako, may plano ako. Trabaho, katiyakan, at pag-asa ang aking ihahain para sa ating mga kababayan,” said Roxas.
(He’s going down in the surveys, so he’s eyeing me. He always sees me to push himself up. He doesn't know what he's doing with our country, what's his plan? All he sees is me. Me, I have a plan. Work, stability, and hope is what I offer to our countrymen.)
In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Roxas was in a statistical tie with Duterte for 3rd place – 21% for Roxas and 20% for Duterte. Leading the pack was opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay and independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe.
Tacloban City and the province of Leyte in 2010 were anything but the bailiwick of Roxas. He lost badly to Binay in both places, getting less than Binay's votes in Tacloban and a little more than one-third of votes in Leyte province compared to more than 46% that Binay got.
Tacloban was among Roxas’ many stops in the province of Leyte on Friday. After his visit to the city, he also visited Tanauan town, which was also hit hard by Yolanda. Tanauan’s incumbent mayor, Pel Tecson, used to be part of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance but has since joined the ruling LP. – Rappler.com