INTERIOR and Local Government secretary Manuel Roxas maintained on Thursday that the national government never attempted to takeover Tacloban City after it was ravaged by typhoon Yolanda last year nor has any intent to abandon the city for its failure to come up with a written request asking assistance from the national government.
During the resumption of the congressional oversight committee hearing on the post disaster management Review at the senate, Roxas insisted that since day one the national government has beenproviding assistance not only for Tacloban but also the other affected towns in Leyte and in Samar.
He said meetings between the local officials of Tacloban and the national government headed by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the DILG were conducted daily to be able to discuss actions that need to be carried out including the imposition of a curfew and setting up of checkpoint.
Roxas noted that there was not truth behind the rumors that the national government wants to takeover Tacloban and even threatened to abandon the city after the city council failed to pass an ordinance allowing the national government to help in the relief efforts.
Roxas noted that even in the absence of an ordinance the DILG has allowed curfew and the setting up of checkpoints allover the city following incidents of looting and other crimes.
“But the imposition of curfew should be supported by a local ordinance that is why during one of our meetings, we asked Mayor (Alfred) Romualdez to convene the council and come up with the necessary ordinance,” he explained.
“After four days of inability to pass the ordinance because the local council cannot constitute a quorum, I asked them to write a letter so that the President has a basis for ordering said curfew,” he said.
Roxas also told the members of the oversight committee that the video of the meeting that was uploaded in the internet was obviously spliced to make it appear he was demanding something else.
The DILG secretary, based on the uploaded video of a meeting between him and Romualdez, was quoted as saying “bahala na kayo” (you’re on your own), but Roxas insisted that it is not what he meant, in fact he told the mayor that the government can’t allow them to be on their own because it is the obligation of the national government to respond to the needs of the those affected by the typhoon.
Representative Kit Belmonte, also asked the DILG secretary what he meant when he told Romualdez that they need to be careful because the mayor is a Romualdez and the president is an Aquino.
Roxas said there is nothing wrong with his statement because it is the truth and the president only wants to be careful because other may deliberately misinterpret the actions of the government and he doesn’t want to be misconstrued.
Romualdez, during last year’s committee hearing disclosed that the government failed to provide additional security personnel to temporarily replace the members of city’s police force who were also victims of the typhoon, despite of their repeated requests.
He said he doesn’t understand why the national government needs to have a letter signed by him in order to legalize the presence of the government in Tacloban.
But Roxas noted that the law calls for it, although he said that even with the absence of the letter or ordinance the government did not stop helping the city.
Roxas and Romualdez met during the hearing and even shook hands before the hearing. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA