ONE year has passed since super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan hit the Visayas, and most devastatingly, most murderously Leyte and Samar.
Until now, thousands of victims, orphaned, rendered homeless, jobless and robbed of their dignity, still live in tents and temporary quarters unfit for human beings. Homes could not be built for them because the Aquino administration could not manage the simple problem of acquiring land for the victims’ new houses. This cruel failure to properly address the basic needs of the victims is criminal incompetence, criminal neglect and possibly corruption, for which President Benigno Aquino 3rd, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, the other Cabinet officials and their subordinates tasked with this work should be made to answer and be punished.
President Aquino only lately approved the Rehabilitation Plan submitted to him by Mr. Panfilo Lacson almost five months ago. This criminal sluggardness should have made us Filipinos rise in anger and drive him and his crooked, mendacious, and incompetent band of hypocrites out of Malacañang. But most of us Filipinos have become moral cripples.
Already recognized by all except the Aquino fanatics, and known by all except those whose sources of information are the powerful print and broadcast media which have chosen to conceal the crimes and criminality of the Aquino administration officials, is that the deaths by some estimate of up to 16,000 and some of the destruction in Leyte and Samar could have been minimized if President Aquino and his two closest officials–the men whose functions were to lead our nation in minimizing risks and damage caused by natural disasters–had not been criminally neglectful and incompetent.
These two men are DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. Roxas as DILG chief is the highest national leader under President Aquino tasked with giving leadership to town, city and provincial governments in virtually everything — including facing up to natural calamities. Gazmin as Defense department top man is also the head of the National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). He is therefore the principal official responsible for the implementation of the approved 2011 to 2028 National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Plan (NDRRMP).
As detailed in Times Columnist Rigoberto Tiglao’s piece yesterday (“Exposed: The govt’s biggest boo-boo on the Yolanda fiasco”), Roxas and Gazmin had flown to Tacloban, and arrived there at 5 p.m. of November 7. Their mission was precisely to take charge of the evacuation, the rescue and relief operations that super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan would necessitate. The government’s PAG-ASA weather bureau as well as USA’s NASA and other international facilities monitoring the weather had been giving correct warnings well in advance.
But Roxas and Gazmin held an airport press conference and called a meeting of more than two dozen local government officials to discuss disaster risk and reduction management work to be done. The big “boo-boo” discussed by Columnist Tiglao–and because of it the consequences on the persons of Roxas, Gazmin –would have been as laughable as a Dolphy movie had it not resulted in tragic consequences also on the people of Tacloban and the whole of Leyte and Samar.
Roxas and Gazmin, criminally incompetently, failed to have PAGASA experts and knowledge with them and criminally misled the local officials because of their criminal ignorance of the actual speed and timing of Yolanda/Haiyan’s arrival. While in Manila, President Aquino was already talking of Yolanda/Haiyan making landfall by midnight of November 7, Roxas–who was presiding over the disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) meeting in Tacloban–was saying on the afternoon of November 7 “We have until 10 o’clock tomorrow morning to evacuate these people.”
He and Gazmin went to bed and “after rounds of brandy” slept soundly in their hotel rooms. They nearly lost their lives because Yolanda/Haiyan hit Tacloban with all its fury at dawn as PAG-ASA had been warning. Some sources, Tiglao reports, said Roxas and Gazmin’s aides had to break down their bosses’ doors to wake them and take them out to safety as raging waters were engulfing the hotel. Gazmin, a diabetic, lost his insulin kit and later, to save his life, had to be flown to Cebu.
Gazmin, the principal manager of our country’s disaster risk reduction and management work, and Roxas the veritable second in command being the chief of all the local governments, had become disaster victims themselves because of their criminal and stupid failure to arm themselves with current and accurate information about the super typhoon.
These facts have not received the publicity they deserve. This shows the Aquino administration is not concerned about the lives and safety of the people. The most popular print and broadcast media have been complicit in keeping the lid on the shocking criminal incompetence and corrupt lack of concern of the Aquino officials. They have been telling the world lies about Leyte and Samar having recovered. And corruptly they could not even properly account for the international donations received for relief and rehabilitation.
Yolanda hurled ships into Tacloban City, destroying homes and burying residents under their weight. These ships are still where they landed on November 8 last year. Neither the national government nor the local is willing to spend the huge cost of their removal.
This is a good thing.
The ships can be turned into monuments to remind our children and future Filipinos that there was once a corrupt, slothful, uncaring and criminally inept president of the Philippines, supported by a band of equally unworthy and cruel Cabinet members and underlings, named Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino.