The performance of former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd during Super Typhoon Yolanda and the days immediately after has exposed his failure as a manager and a leader, according to the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Yolanda has shown to the people the extent, or rather the limits, of Secretary Roxas’ executive capability. He was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And his now classic reply to the local officials of Tacloban [City] pleading for national government’s help best illustrates his insensitivity to the suffering of our people: Bahala kayo sa buhay nyo [You’re on your own],” the Vice President’s spokesman and lawyer Rico Quicho said on Friday.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday pointed to Roxas’ performance during Yolanda as proof of the latter’s leadership ability.
Quicho said Roxas, as the ruling party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections, should not evade questions on the failure of the administration to improve the lives of the poor and deliver basic services in typhoon-hit areas.
About 130,000 families, according to him, are still homeless and still live in tent cities and bunkhouses in Tacloban City, Leyte, and other areas devastated by the typhoon two years ago based on the report of Social Watch Philippines (SWP).
Former national treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones of SWP said the President has not yet approved the release of P54 billion for housing resettlement.
Twenty months after Yolanda, the government has not yet completed building resilient permanent homes for 205,000 families that were rendered homeless, SWP and Christian Aid reported.
Quicho said Social Watch traced the source of the problem to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which had released ”only a third or P21 billion of the P75 billion allocated for housing resettlement.”
“A total of P170 billion was earmarked for reconstruction and rehabilitation, but again, the government has not released the whole amount,” he added.
Quicho said government housing agencies were supposed to complete 120,000 housing units in 2015 for the typhoon victims but the funds were not immediately released to the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“These projects have been bid out and ready for award but could not be awarded yet pending release of funds to the [NHA],” he added.
Quicho noted that the Aquino administration did not push through with approved programs for 2014 by not releasing fund allocations totaling P303 billion.
The unreleased appropriations affected projects of major departments: Department of Education (P2.2 billion); Department of Public Works and Highways (P26.3 billion); Department of Agriculture (P2.6 billion); Department of Agrarian Reform (P5.8 billion); and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P1.9 billion).
Quicho said the underspending adversely affected economic growth.
He noted even Budget Secretary Florencio Abad admitted in a congressional hearing on the 2016 national budget that a backlog in the disbursement of funds and the underspending or non-release of funds affected economic growth.