By Ayee Macaraig | Rappler
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr called on the government to “have mercy on the poor” as he issued a stinging criticism of the government's slow rehabilitation program for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
On the second anniversary of the typhoon on Sunday, November 8, Marcos returned to his mother's home province of Leyte, and joined opposition figures in commemorative events.
A vice presidential bet, Marcos said the Aquino administration's rehabilitation efforts for storm-hit areas especially Tacloban, ground zero of the typhoon, have been “very little, very late.”
“Sana naman maawa naman sila sa mga naghihirap. 'Yun lang ang ating inaalala, paano makakatulong sa mga naghihirap,” said the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
(I hope they have mercy on the poor. That is all that we are considering, how to help the poor.)
Marcos made the statement before the start of a Mass at the Tacloban Astrodome, which became the refuge of evacuees at the height of the 2013 disaster. The storm killed over 6,000 and left thousands homeless as storm surges and strong wind flattened Tacloban, the commercial hub of the region.
The senator said lawmakers like himself are not even informed where the billions in pesos allocated for Yolanda victims went, and how this was spent.
“We do not have an accounting, an assessment, a report, nothing. They just give these vague answers,” Marcos said.
The budget department said that of the P150 billion ($3.195 billion) required for rehabilitation, P93.87 billion ($1.998 billion) was released. The balance of P10.2 billion ($217.20 million) will be released this November, and the remaining P46 billion ($979.50 million) is in the budget for 2016.
Marcos also rejected the pronouncement of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that the rehabilitation program is 51% complete, based on the plan of former Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson.
“I think that is a very, very optimistic estimate. Kung titingnan ang masterplan ni Ping Lacson, on the ground na natapos na, malayo pa sa 51%,” he said.
(If you look at the masterplan of Ping Lacson, on the ground what was completed is still far from 51%.)
As an example, Marcos cited National Housing Authority figures for housing where he said only 6% of permanent shelter has been constructed.
“There are still thousands of people who are homeless. Many are still waiting for the government's promise. Many do not know where are the funds donated, including from our overseas Filipino workers, aid agencies, until now, the government agencies do not want to give us an answer. Many remain victims, waiting for assistance,” he said.
Marcos added: “Kitang-kita na kulang talaga ang naging response ng gobyerno. Dalawang taon na ang nakalipas, wala pa rin tayong masyadong nakikitang tulong.”
(You can see that the government's response is really lacking. Two years already passed but we still don't see the aid.)
The government attributed the delays to policies on procurement and land acquisition.