Don’t use Tacloban City as symbol of super typhoon “Yolanda.” This was the appeal of Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson who cited the multitude of problems endemic to Tacloban including politics.
Lacson was reacting to critics who used Tacloban as the yardstick in measuring government’s rehabilitation efforts in provinces in Eastern Visayas hammered by Yolanda a year ago.
Lacson said there were 175 cities and municipalities spread over six regions affected by Yolanda’s deadly winds of 380 kilometers per hour. “This is not only about Tacloban. We cannot use it as representative of Yolanda because we are looking at very many areas,” said Lacson in an interview with DZMM’s Ted Failon.
“Tacloban is a unique situation, it has political dynamics. After that, Tacloban has numerous problems that I might run out of time if I told you all the problems there,”Lacson added.
Lacson exhorted local government officials to follow other mayors belonging to the opposition who continue to coordinate with the Office of Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery through text messages and e-mail. “We always give whatever they need,” Lacson insisted.
Rehabilitation efforts were relatively slower compared to other areas such as Guian, Eastarn Samar where Yolanda first made land fall and where President Aquino decided to showcase his administration’s rehabilitation achievements. But Lacson said that government should not be accused of refusing to help Tacloban just because its mayor , Alfredo Romualdez, was from the opposition. Romauldez is a nephew of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
“In truth, Mayor Romualdez went to me to complain. He said he had no money for the salaries of employees to run city hall. He asked if we could advance their salaries even for just one quarter (three months). We did not offer them just one quarter, we offered them six months. I made the request (to government) but he refused. That is one of the problems,” said Lacson.