Bellyaching won’t help, says Lacson
Bellyaching isn’t going to help even Superman rebuild Tacloban City.
Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson made the statement on Saturday as criticism of the alleged slow pace of rehabilitation projects in areas walloped by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” continued to mount, particularly in Tacloban.
Lacson was in Ormoc City, Leyte province, along with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to commemorate the first anniversary of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which killed close to 7,000 people and left a trail of unimaginable destruction.
“Let’s just help each other instead of throwing brickbats. Nothing will happen if we continue to complain and resort to bellyaching,” Lacson told reporters.
He denied claims by Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez and his cousin, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, that the city had not received assistance from the national government.
Lacson also pointed out that it was only in Tacloban where antigovernment protests had been carried out during the commemoration of Yolanda’s first anniversary.
“I’ve been all over the place since three days ago. I didn’t see any protests …. It’s only in Tacloban where we hear bellyaching. So much bellyaching. So much complaints,” he said.
“Our message to Mayor Romualdez is: Let’s help each other. This is not about politics. This is about survivors suffering from the effects of Yolanda.”
The former senator, who was appointed by President Aquino to lead the multiagency rehabilitation program in typhoon-stricken communities, maintained that the situation in Tacloban did not reflect the government’s rebuilding efforts.
Not the microcosm
“Tacloban is not the microcosm or representative of the 171 cities and municipalities affected by Yolanda. It is just one of the 171 areas,” Lacson said.
Led by the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), thousands of survivors and their supporters marched in Tacloban on Saturday as they called for Aquino’s resignation for his supposed failure to ensure swift and comprehensive reconstruction in the disaster zone.
Lacson reiterated the importance of governors and mayors in identifying projects the national government should prioritize.
“We are not omnipotent because we cannot see all the things that are happening. That’s why we appreciate mayors who approach us about their concerns,” he said. “We are not Superman who can just blow the problems away. Rehabilitation work is a very tedious job, especially so because the President wants us to ‘build back better.’”
Defending the Aquino administration from allegations that it neglected Tacloban, Lacson said the city had received the biggest chunk of public funds—initially P251 million for the repair of its City Hall, public market and civic center.
The national government, on the other hand, earmarked more than P400 million for rebuilding projects in Ormoc, including P59 million for the repair of its civic center, according to Lacson.
“Let’s look beyond Tacloban,” said Lacson, who was in the Leyte provincial capital on Saturday.
At least 1.47 million families in the Visayas need shelter, he said. Tacloban accounts for 205,000 families, of whom 14,000 would be given priority.
“I’m tired of arguing but we need to tell the people what is happening and we should tell the people about the overall picture. Tacloban is just a minor part of the whole corridor,” Lacson said.
In Cebu province on Sunday, Lacson joined the turnover ceremonies for 200 permanent houses in Bogo City put up by SM Cares.
This project was intended for families in Barangay (village) Polambato that were identified by Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. to be living in danger zones or in coastal areas vulnerable to storm surges.
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