TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino visits Tacloban City on Sunday and turns his anger on local officials who, he says, did not prepare enough for the super typhoon.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez counters: don’t insult the dead.
Paterno Esmaquel reports. (Watch Rappler's video report below.)
(The script of the video report follows.)
A city left in ruins by a killer typhoon, caught in a clash between leaders from rival families.
President Benigno Aquino says Tacloban City failed to prepare for Yolanda as much as other areas. He adds, this make him angry.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Sa ibang lugar ho, parang, hindi na lang ako magsasalita dahil bilang Pangulo n'yo bawal ho akong magalit. Maski na gaano ang inis ko, daanin ko na lang sa asim ng sikmura... Eh pag sinabi sa 'yo, eto, eto ang dadaanan, eh ano pa nga ba ang gagawin mo – imbis na makinig, 'di ba, ay kumilos? Pero sa akin na lang ho 'yon.
(Now as for other places, I'd rather not comment, because as your President I'm not supposed to get angry. No matter how frustrated I am, I'll just stay silent and keep my peace. Now if you're told that this is the typhoon's path, what will you do, aside from listen – act, right? But I'll just keep that to myself.)
Aquino says the second-class town of Guiuan did better than Tacloban. Preparation spells the difference.
Disaster officials say at least 0.31% of Tacloban residents died due to Yolanda. In Guiuan, only 0.21% lost their lives.
But Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez says the President insults the dead.
ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, TACLOBAN CITY MAYOR: Siguro masasabi ko, ang Metro Manila handa sa Yolanda dahil hindi sila tinamaan. Pero kami, sinong magsasabi na handa? I mean, ayoko nang patulan 'yan. Ano, iinsultuhin pa ba natin 'yung mga namatay, at sasabihin natin, namatay kayo dahil hindi kayo handa? (Perhaps I can say that Metro Manila was prepared for Yolanda because the typhoon didn't hit it. But what about us, how can we be that prepared? I mean, I don't want to comment on that. Now what, will we still insult the dead, and say they died because they were unprepared?)
Romualdez adds the national government should revamp its response to disasters.
ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, TACLOBAN CITY MAYOR: I think it's about time – this country is always hit by disasters – it's about time, if they have to set up one battalion of rescuers on standby, they're needed. We've been hit constantly, and we always rely on local rescuers, rescuers here, rescuers there, but we don't really have yet a template, or a command of people with more than a thousand people, rescuers, equipment, and all that, and they're experts in this.
Local governments, after all, can't handle disasters alone.
In Tacloban, at least Aquino and Romualdez agree on one thing: rebuilding the city. For over 270,000 persons that Yolanda affected here, helping them comes first. Now is not the time for the blame game.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Tacloban City.