Marcos defends Tacloban mayor on ‘Yolanda’ response, asks why DSWD ‘seized’ goods
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — Mayor Alfred Romualdez would rather stay mum for apparently being on the receiving end of criticism for the government’s lackluster approach to the “Yolanda” tragedy but his maternal cousin, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., stood up for the executive and had put the blame on the national government instead.
“There are a lot of people (affected) for days who were not able to eat much less have water to drink and they are even checking people on the list,” Marcos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer as he tried to illustrate how the national government has been undertaking its relief efforts.
Marcos said the problem has been made complicated by the confiscation being done by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Everyone is offering their boats and assets to ferry it for free, but the problem is the DSWD has confiscated the relief,” he said.
He cited the case of goods the Marcos and Romualdez families had tried to deliver to Tacloban and outlying towns, which ended up confiscated by the DSWD for still unclear reasons.
Marcos said he tried to understand the act as part of government efforts to streamline the distribution of assistance but the people could not understand as they starved and felt thirsty.
“That’s ok, but the thing is they won’t release them,” he said.
Marcos said it appeared the national government did not trust local leaders too.
“They should trust their officials because not only they are victims. Not only they are victims but they are also the first responder in their village,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the devastation has been so great “that it’s going to take years before the Leyte folks will be able to get back on their feet,” and the cooperation of everyone would be needed to rebuild the province.
Romualdez earlier expressed his displeasure with the national government, but would rather not say it on record.
But he said there were many “lessons learned” and that it has become important for the government and residents of Tacloban to take a long term approach to prevent another catastrophe from happening.
“I think they have to study and review the procedure,” Romualdez said, referring to the government measures adopted prior to and after the calamity.
Starting with weather forecast capability, Romualdez said it was important to know the circumstances that could create a storm.
“The weather was beautiful before that (Yolanda) came in. So you ask yourself what causes some typhoons to form because out of nowhere this came in,” he said.
He said the typhoon, initially forecast to have wind speed of 218-280 kilometers per hour, actually went beyond 300 kph during the onslaught.
He even likened the storm wind to that produced by a jet engine.
“So I think this is something to be looked up and studied because this might affect our building code,” he said.
He said for instance, that the school buildings code adopted nationwide prescribed that buildings withstand a 160-kph wind, but this would mean it could not withstand winds of more than 200 kph.
“There must be a different building code in areas like this,” he said, adding that light materials “should even be outlawed.”
“Look at Batanes, it is build to withstand and save lives,” said Romualdez.
He, however, acknowledged no amount of preparedness could prevent the destruction brought by Yolanda (international name Haiyan).
“It is like getting caught and you can’t go anywhere.”
Romualdez also said the city government had prepared Tacloban to its best, and days before Yolanda, residents were already told to evacuate.
He said he and other officials should not be faulted.
“We have a handbook in disaster preparedness,” he said.
“It is important for our future generation to know how to respond to a crisis like this. And it should be a template that nobody can change. It should be followed to the letter,” he said.
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