Despite blame game, Roxas still ‘sympathizes’ with Romualdez
MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said Tuesday his sympathy is still with Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez despite the ongoing blame game between them.
“I sympathize with him. Baka may post-traumatic stress disorder siya kaya hindi ko alam kung saan nanggagaling mga criticisms niya,” he said.
(Maybe he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that is why I could not figure out the basis of his criticisms.)
Roxas, however, maintained that being a victim of the unprecedented typhoon does not give Romualdez the license to “twist the truth.”
“Nauunawaan ko siya pero hindi dahil biktima ka dito, hindi ito lisensya para sa mga kabaluktutan na ito,” Roxas said in a press briefing at Philippine National Police headquarters.
(I understand the situation he is in, but that does not give him license to twist the facts.)
Roxas met the media Tuesday to dispute Romualdez’ statement accusing the administration of foot-dragging in rescuing thousands of Leyte constituents affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda in a congressional committee Monday.
But the blame game still goes on. Reacting on the claims that the government deliberately failed to respond in his calamity-torn city due to politics, Roxas said Romualdez is the one who politicized the situation.
“[The] mayor is the one who puts politics here by making these unfounded and crooked statements. Only the victims could tell the truth,” he said.
Among other cities devastated by the typhoon, Roxas argued that Tacloban has received the most aid since the first day of the disaster aftermath. In Leyte alone, there are 5,087 out of the total 5,936 fatalities based on the latest report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Breaking down before senators, representatives and officials, Romualdez vented his frustration on government officials, including President Aquino, for what he said was their failure to send police and military reinforcement “until today.”
Since the city police force lineup had been depleted, local officials need the reinforcements to rescue survivors in the city of 250,000 leveled by the powerful storm, he said.
“For Mayor Romualdez, straighten out your memory banks. (His statements) are very selective,” he retorted.
The Department of Interior and Local Government secretary told the media that the saying “when you point a finger to someone, three fingers are pointing back at you” was “true.”
“Who was supposed to plan the rescuing of the people? Who is the chairman of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office?” he said.
Reading the transcript of their November 14 meeting, Roxas presented the media his proof that the city Mayor and his city administrators sought the help of the national government since the Tacloban officials had been paralyzed by the typhoon.
“Hindi kami nang-aagaw ng kapangyarihan dahil ayon sa batas, ang first responder is the Local Government Unit, ’di ba?”
(We are not taking his power over Tacloban because the law says, the first responder should be the Local Government Unit, right?)
But Romualdez on Monday clarified that he wasn’t accusing the national government of failing to extend any help. He said he was merely pointing to the government’s lack of “massive effort” to rescue survivors, and its focus on relief efforts.
Accusing Romualdez of being two-faced, he said “Kapag kaharap ang pangulo, ubod ng pasasalamat, ‘kung wala kayo paano na lang kami?’ kapag kaharap naman ang iba, kritisismo (sic).”
(When the President is around, he would thank him, tell him ‘what will happen to us without your help?’ But when he’s in front of others, he will criticize us,” he added.
Asked what lesson should be learned from this, Roxas said “that we must clarify or distinguish first the roles of each government body in responding to disasters.”
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