By JP Lopez and Raymond Africa | Malaya
SEN. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a cousin of Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez, yesterday said he was ”deeply puzzled” why the family names of his relatives and those of President Aquino became “factors” in relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of typhoon “Yolanda.”
“It is a mystery to all of us why that is part of the discussion when people are dying and people are in need of help and assistance,” he said.
Marcos was referring to Romualdez’ statement before a joint congressional oversight committee last Monday that Roxas raised the issue of his being a “Romualdez” and the President being an “Aquino” during a meeting days after typhoon “Yolanda” struck on November 8.
Romualdez also claimed government ignored his plea for help.
In reply, Roxas, accused of politicizing the issue, said he was just being careful when he asked the Tacloban City government to pass an ordinance allowing the national government to take over relief and rescue efforts so that everything will be “legalized.”
“You have to remember, we have to be very careful because you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino,” Romualdez quoted Roxas as telling him when he asked why the need for an ordinance.
Roxas’ version of his statement was: “You have to understand we are talking straight here. You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino. So we are being very careful in just taking over because we do not want anything to be misconstrued, misunderstood.”
Marcos asked how Roxas could claim to have been misconstrued when he said the entire conversation among Roxas, Romualdez, and other Tacloban officials during the meeting held November 14 was shown in a video posted on YouTube, “so the context is complete.”
“Siguro pare-pareho tayong nagtataka kung bakit pati ba naman yung pangalan at pamilya ng mayor at saka ng pangulo may kinalaman sa relief operations,” Marcos told reporters.
There are two versions of the video on YouTube.
Marcos also said there is no need for provincial officials to write a letter to national government officials for them to step in during calamities.
He said the law that created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council states that if two provinces are affected in the disaster, then the national government can come in.
“Maliwanag na very, very clear, ang duties ng lahat ng mga relief entities be it at whatever level, at the city, municipal level, at the provincial level, regional and national level, even international,” he said.
Asked if politics intervened in the relief operations in Leyte, Marcos said: “I think I will leave it up to you to come to those conclusions. It’s not for me to say what the Secretary intended. I guess it will be left to each individual to interpret it in his own way.”
The video on the meeting between Roxas and Romualdez had a long and short version. Both were posted two days ago.
One, titled “Yolanda MAR ROXAS Telling off Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez,” is 18 seconds long and posted by “Josemari Gonzalez.”
Romualdez is married to Cristina “Kring-Kring” Gonzales, daughter of former movie star Jose Mari Gonzales. It could not be ascertained if the father and the one who posted the video are the same person.
The other video, titled “C-talk: Romualdez Roxas meeting,” was posted by a “Cito Beltran,” and is 42 minutes and 55 seconds long.
Beltran, who writes for the Philippine Star, said he uploaded the video. He said there are other videos of the meeting.
Babes Suva, Roxas’ media relations officer, said they are aware of the longer video but was unaware why it was posted. She also said the meeting took place November 14.
Roxas said the 18-second video is “malicious” and far from what really happened during that time.
The short video showed Roxas talking with Romualdez, as if he was cautioning the mayor to be careful because he is a Romualdez who is not a known ally of the Aquinos.
“Alam natin na lumabas ang video na ito at pinutol-putol, dinuktor, niretoke ang pag-uusap na ito para maging consistent o sumuporta doon sa mga binahaging salita ni mayor sa Senate hearing,” Roxas said.
Roxas said the video was obviously manipulated as one other scene “jumped” to another scene. He said the whole meeting that day took exactly 51 minutes, while the video showed only 18 seconds, and parts of it were edited.
Apparently unaware of the longer video, he said it will be better for those who uploaded the video to post the whole proceedings so it will be clear to all what really took place during that instance.
Roxas reiterated that the request-letter he asked Romualdez to make was to formalize what specific help Tacloban City wants national government to give.
“Linawin ko lang. Itong letter ay pormalidad, hindi ito susi, hindi ito naging hudyat ng pagsisimula ng tulong. Nandun nga ang national government bago pa ang bagyo... Ang sulat is to formalize kung ano ang kaya at ang hindi kaya ng city government,” Roxas said.
He said the only issue here is whether help was given to Tacloban City or not, right after the typhoon.
He said 171 cities and municipalities in the Visayas region were affected by “Yolanda” and it is only in Tacloban City that issues and intrigues are surfacing.
“One hundred seventy one na bayan nagkaroon naapektuhan ng kalamidad pero nagkaroon ng cooperation. Pero dito lang tayo sa Tacloban City nagkaroon ng ganito. Kung bakit, hindi ko alam. Kung sino nagsimula, siya dapat ang tanungin ninyo,” Roxas said.