Malacañang on Monday denied blaming local officials in Tacloban City for not preparing well against the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
President Benigno Aquino 3rd was criticized for blaming the extent of the damages and casualties to the locality.
Yolanda flattened communities in the city and killed scores of people. These reports disappointed the President in a briefing in Tacloban on Sunday.
However, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras defended the President, saying that Aquino is very particular on “moving forward” and helping the victims of the typhoon.
He said that the President, in a meeting in Roxas City, told local officials: “Huwag niyo na hong i-kwento sa akin kung ano ang ginawa ninyo, ano ang nangyari, kasi nandito na tayo. We’re pressed for time. We need to respond. We need to move. Mas gusto kong sabihin ninyo sa akin kung ano ang kailangan nating gawin at paano natin gagawin—pag-usapan natin kung paano natin gagawin.”
“As far as blaming local government, I don’t think that is an accurate description,” Almendras added
The Palace official explained that the national government has a hard time getting to the residents in the localities.
“Hindi namin kilala ang barangay captain. Hindi ko alam ang pangalan ng barangay, much more kung nasaan sila [We cannot identify the barangays, much less locate them immediately],” he said
For this reason, Almendras underscored the need for coordination between the local and national governments.
He said that one thing learned while addressing the needs of victims of Typhoon Pablo is that the response is easier if officials of the national and local governments work together.
“It makes the whole process more efficient if the ground is well-organized and ready to accept relief goods,” he added. “We all need to work together. There’s a need to organize ourselves well.”
Meanwhile, Almendras said that suggestions and constructive comments on how to improve the delivery of relief goods and services are very welcome.
“We do not claim brilliance, na alam namin ang lahat na solution. Pero ipagtatanggol namin ang tao namin in the field. Napaka-unfair ang criticisms sa people who are trying to help [We do not claim brilliance or to know all the solutions. But we have to defend our people in the field. Some criticism against them are unfair because they are trying to help],” he said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE