A year ago today, Supertyphoon “Yolanda” made landfall at 4:40 a.m. in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Yolanda left a near-apocalyptic landscape: about 600 towns and 57 cities in 44 provinces flattened or damaged, more than 28,000 people injured and some 3 million affected in one way or another. The government stopped counting the dead—the corpses littered the coasts and countryside for weeks and sometimes months after the typhoon—at 6,293 last April, despite some 1,800 more persons reported missing. No one is sure of the exact number at this point.
It’s too bad that our public officials can’t set aside politics even temporarily for a tragedy of immense magnitude like Super Typhoon Yolanda. Not that you can blame President Aquino for skipping Tacloban City, Ground Zero of the monster howler, and skipping the date itself of the first anniversary, opting instead to fly to Guiuan, Eastern Samar last Friday.
President Aquino is no statesman, and as we have seen, he doesn’t take criticism well. The people of Tacloban, led by Imelda Marcos’ relative Alfred Romualdez, were not expected to roll out the red carpet for the President. P-Noy faced street protests – not the best image to be sent out to the world by all the foreign journalists who went to Eastern Visayas for the Yolanda Victims anniversary. And horrors, Congresswoman Imeldific was invited to the event!
So P-Noy, who has enough problems on his plate, picked friendlier ground and went to Guiuan. There he was shown knocking on the wooden frame of a hut that looked flimsy enough to be toppled by a native pig fleeing the butcher.
Although Pnoy is the President and as such should exercise utmost statesmanship by doing the popular choice of going to Tacloban instead of Guiuan, I could understand his aversion towards sharing the same space and time with Mayor Romualdez who has time and again criticized the government's handling of recovery efforts in Tacloban. What is important is the assistance that has so far been delivered and future
efforts to bring the city back to normalcy.
I wonder what yardstick he is using to measure the recovery efforts. He should understand that there other towns and provinces equally needing help and the government is no miracle worker to attend to the needs of people all at the same time. There are priorities and schedules to be observed vis-a-vis resources.
In the same vein, somebody should also question what Mayor Romualdez has done so far. To think this is the mayor who ignored the warning of PAGASA and didn't bother to ask the meaning of storm surge. This ignorance and inaction resulted to a lack of preparedness by his people when Yolanda slammed Tacloban's shores.
He was found out to be spending time with his family in a near-by resort. All the time he deflected criticism of his behaviour by attacking the very entity, the central government, which has the wherewithal to help him and his people. By alienating Malacanang he may have effectively denied his people the full support of the national government. Be that as it may, the government made sure that Tacloban got its fair share of relief funds and assistance.
Calling on Ping Lacson to itemize the assistance given with the amount, date and projects and relief and rehabilitation efforts and programs so that the people may know, and there upon ignore Romualdezes' whining and politicking.
\Is there a way of some sort of administrative sanction that could be meted on a lying, whining, and uncooperative local executives who need to own up to their mistakes and National Government deficiencies?