Rep. Martin Romualdez of Leyte has refused to take offense to the comment made by President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the local government of Leyte wasn’t prepared enough for the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda—the strongest storm recorded in the world for 2013.
Romualdez was referring to the comment made by the Chief Executive when President Aquino stopped by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council meeting last Saturday—ahead of the President’s visit to Tacloban on Sunday.
Romualdez’s brother, Alfred, is the mayor of Tacloban City. The Romualdezes belong to the Lakas-CMD, the political party of former President Gloria Arroyo.
“Those comments were made at the onset of the Typhoon. I was with the President when he arrived in Tacloban City Airport [on Sunday]with the Cabinet members, and he had a better appreciation of the situation yesterday,” Romualdez said in a press briefing in Barangay Valenzuela, Makati City covered court where his office organized relief effort for the people of Leyte.
Romualdez noted that it is understandable that the President wasn’t immediately aware of the magnitude of the situation, considering that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd were already in Leyte ahead of Typhoon Yolanda.
“No one could estimate and prepare for this catastrophe of unprecedented proportion which is one of the worst in history. The comment was very premature because he still had inaccurate information at that time,” Romualdez added.
Romualdez is also facing criticism because of his absence in the 1st District of Leyte at the height of Yolanda’s wrath.
The Leyte lawmaker admitted that it was only on Sunday that he was able to make it to his district which was annihilated by the Super Typhoon Yolanda because his flight ahead of Yolanda’s landfall on Thursday was cancelled by authorities for safety.
“There are similar questions and comments to that effect, and it is very frustrating. But my constituents can be assured that despite these criticisms, I will continue to fulfill my duties as a public official to the best of my abilities,” Romualdez, the nephew of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI