Who calls the shots after Haiyan?

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – In the aftermath of the super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), government agencies scramble to deliver aid to survivors and help them rebuild their lives.

But who calls the shots?

Paterno Esmaquel reports. (Watch Rappler's video report below.)

(The script of the video report follows.)

For over an hour, he quizzes disaster officials, aid workers, and government personnel.

Other than the President, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is the face of the team handling the biggest humanitarian crisis in Philippine history.

But Interior Secretary Mar Roxas says there's no ground commander.

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: There is no such title dahil ayon sa NDRRMC, it's Sec Voltz Gazmin ang aming chairman, at ina-assign-assign niya kami sa kung ano ang aming dapat gawin. (There is no such title because according to the NDRRMC, it's Sec Voltz Gazmin who is our chairman, and he assigns us to do whatever we have to do. )

Q: Pero sir, who is calling the shots here in this center? (But sir, who is calling the shots here in this center?)

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Wala. You can see the process that is being undertaken, and it is a consultative process. (No one. You can see the process that is being undertaken, and it is a consultative process.)

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman says it's a team effort.

DINKY SOLIMAN, SOCIAL WELFARE SECRETARY: Lahat kami, buong pamahalaan, pambansa at lokal, kumikilos as one. But more than that, 'yun ang gusto kong ipaalam sa lahat – it's also whole of society. Lahat ng private sector, lahat ng volunteers, lahat ng volunteers dito sa Tacloban, nagre-repack sila. This is whole of society, responding to a crisis. Nagkaisa ang bansa; 'yun ang ating mensahe. (Everyone of us, the whole of government, national and local, move as one. But more than this, what I want everyone to know – it's also whole of society. The entire private sector, all volunteers, all volunteers here in Tacloban are repacking. This is whole of society, responding to a crisis. The nation is working as one; that's our message.)

Like the President, she says their boss is the people.

In the command center, aid workers say the set-up is frustrating. One of them says they have too many bosses, but no decision-maker.

Roxas defends the current set-up. He also says intrigue is useless after disaster. He also denies talk he asked Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez to leave the mayor's office. In a statement, Roxas says he is “fuming mad.”

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Sa inyo na naandito, kung naghahanap kayo ng kahit anong hudyat na mukhang bumabalik na sa normal, siguro isang hudyat ito: sigurong nagnonormal na nga kasi may puwang na, may lugar na, para sa intriga at pamumulitika. (To all of you here, if you're looking for any sign that things are returning to normal, perhaps this is a sign. Perhaps things are returning to normal because there's already space for intrigues and politicking.)

But this brings us back to the question, who is calling the shots?


Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Tacloban City.

– Rappler.com

The Long Road to Tacloban 
Rappler has set up a base in Tacloban to gather stories in Leyte and Eastern Samar, especially in the towns and villages that sufficient aid and most media have yet to reach. 

On November 14, they set out for Tacloban – by land – from our headquarters in Pasig City. The 36-hour trip took them through the provinces most heavily devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Here, they shared with us what they saw along the way, capturing images of destruction and despair, narrating stories of anguish, hope, and heroism. 

Their journey continues. They are finding people. The stories keep coming. Their and these people's voices are here.

Follow their story here

Help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). Visit Rappler's list ofongoing relief operations in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, emailmove.ph@rappler.com or tweet us @moveph 

Visit rappler.com/typhoon-yolanda for the latest updates on Typhoon Yolanda.

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